On a chilly morning, a mouse finds something remarkable: a warm and welcoming fire. So, she builds a stove to mark the spot. When a fox chases the mouse but suddenly stops, she builds a floor on the patch of ground where she is protected. Soon, it seems as though the mouse has everything she needs for a house. But there’s one thing missing: friends!
House Mouse is a deceptively simple story about hard work, creativity, and sharing from a master of layered, yet accessible picture books. Michael Hall’s signature bright, bold mixed-media artwork will catch the eye of the youngest readers, as will the busy mouse’s tool collection and construction work.
House Mouse is playful and surprising and shares a powerful message about friendship, empathy, and hospitality.
Greenwillow Books, 2021, 40 pages, hardcover 978-0-06286-619-6
“It all begins when a tiny mouse finds something remarkable in a wild asparagus patch. It’s a fire, so she makes a stove around it (bang bang bang) to mark where the cold does not go. Soon she adds a floor (tap tap tap) where the fox does not chase, a roof (thump thump thump) where the rain does not fall, and, finally, a door to open to weary mouse travelers—a subtle nod to Lady Liberty. The textured-paper collage is easily identifiable as Hall’s work, only with a gentle palette of calming pastels instead of his usual bold colors, which works wonderfully for this quiet tale. This is a sweet, original, well-structured story about how leading with our warm, welcoming impulses will serve and protect us all.”
School Library Journal (starred review)
“With the graphic minimalism of a simple group of shapes or the squiggle of a line, a house mouse creates a space that evolves into a house for all. … Simple text and action verbs accentuated with font changes and angular placements of text invite investigation of images and action each time Hall’s triangular Mouse pulls out a hammer from her tool pail and adds to her house. … A knocking alerts Mouse to build a door, a door she opens to welcome strangers … Now ‘it was a welcoming place and the house mouse wanted everyone to know it.’ As Mouse stands bearing a flaming torch to light the way in the final frame, educators may find a teaching moment about metaphors.”
“It begins with a house, or perhaps with a warm, welcoming flame, or perhaps with the intrepid journey of a mouse who travels over a hill, across a river, and into an asparagus patch to find a home. … Gentle, straightforward text and onomatopoeia recount the mouse’s efforts to envision what could be before it is there … A thoughtful tale for engineers young and old.”
“When a mouse discovers a ‘warm and welcoming’ flame in an asparagus patch one cold day, she makes the first in a series of life-changing decisions. … The construction theme is a natural for Hall, who builds his images from simple, bright-colored shapes … As readers appreciate Hall’s graphic inventiveness, they can also ponder how much comfort and company a hearth can provide.”