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The Mouse And His Child (Puffin Modern Classics) Paperback – 28 Oct 1993
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Audio Download, Unabridged
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The story concerns a clockwork mouse and his son, who wander vulnerably through the wide world in search of a family and a means of becoming self winding. There are displays of heroism, love and humour, sometimes wonderfully dark. There is plenty of action: a robbery, battles and quite a lot of death. More troubling for youngsters, there are also passages of reflection, and the whole book is suffused with a melancholy atmosphere. At times, with its mix of sentimentality and despair, it reminded me of The Road (but then children's books often do).
In the end, everything turns out better than seemed possible. The lost are found, the broken mended and the main characters, at least, are happier and wiser. On the whole, this is a marvellous book for parents, and it's well worth attempting to read it to the children.
I have read "The Mouse and His Child" several times and each time I marvel at the imagination and humour I find in it. It is full of satire and punning and the characters are well rounded and interesting. It is unlike any other book I've ever read and I thoroughly enjoy it. Several lines from the book (or to be more precise, the recording of Peter Ustinov reading the story) have entered our family vocabulary. I would recommend this story to anyone who likes books like "The Chronicles of Narnia," "The Phantom Tollbooth," "Alice in Wonderland," and the stories of E. Nesbit.
A great story, beautifully written & truly inspiring.. a masterpiece!
There were many memorable characters; Manny Rat starts out by being a really nasty villain, but gradually is tamed; the crows of the Caws of Art Experimental Theatre Group were mad luvvy actors; but my favourite was the fortune-telling frog, who becomes the child's uncle. The adventures of the clockwork duo in the wide, wide world, always on the lookout for someone to wind them up again as they travel in their quest to reunite with former wind-up friends and their holy grail of becoming self-winding, will delight younger readers (although some of the aforesaid philosophical musings may slow things down a bit). This novel would also be a brilliant story to read aloud.
Yet as an adult reading it for myself, it left me slightly cold. I've read one Hoban adult novel recently and loved it, and my book group has picked his post-apocalyptic cult classic Riddley Walker for next month which I'm looking forward to. 'The mouse and his child', although the world it depicts is anything but cosy, felt just a tad too sentimental but also a little self-importantly clever to me. It was certainly an interesting adult read, just not quite my cup of tea. (NB: I would have given it 7/10 rather than *** if allowed).
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