William Wise,
Christopher Mouse:
The Tale of a Small Traveler

(Bloomsbury, 2004)

Christopher Mouse is a white mouse with his own way to make in the world. He wants what everyone wants -- a warm, secure home and people to love. His life begins with the right ingredients, a loving mother and lessons of the sort that will be useful to him. But, one day, everything changes and Christopher and his sister Anna are sold to a pet shop. Anna is purchased and then Christopher, and for a while, all is well.

But a boy of little charm and no great conscience is determined to own Christopher, and he makes the mistake of taking Christopher on a field trip when his class visits the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Christopher sees his chance and he makes a dash for freedom. The Met is a splendid building, but a mouse could starve there, Christopher discovers. In the Egyptian wing, a tall cat on a pedestal almost scares him to death. He makes wild promises to the cat if it will let him live, but the cat makes not a move toward the little mouse.

Christopher peeks into a new room where a lady with dangly earrings and white tennis shoes is sitting on a camp stool sketching an array of pottery. She changes his life in the span of two minutes. You will have to read the book to see what happens to a mouse of great expectations.

If I were in the advice business, I would offer this plan: Read this book aloud to children and talk about it. Talk about the storyline, the characters, the illustrations by Patrick Benson and the wonderful vocabulary William Wise uses in the book. I liked the possibilities of terms like spacious, queasiness, coincidence and footsore, to mention a mere handful of evocative words.

I enjoyed this book. I would have liked it when I was a child and new books and new words were the riches of my days.

- Rambles
written by Jean Marchand
published 9 April 2005

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