Friday, September 9, 2016

Word of Mouse
By James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein
Illustrated by Joe Sutphin
Review by Julie Overpeck

The talking blue rodent in Word of Mouse is not the type of character that I normally associate with author James Patterson, but when Chris Grabenstein is the other half of the writing duo, things become a bit absurd, but in a good way.

Isaiah is a brightly colored, ex-lab mouse who escaped the confines of “the bad place” with his family. Unfortunately, the rest of his family was recaptured and Isaiah was left to navigate the real world outside the lab by using his wits, new friends, and ability to communicate with humans. The unfortunate experiments that Isaiah suffered at the hands of his captors not only created the bright blue hue of his coat. They also gave him the ability to read, type, and think at a level higher than your average mouse.

Separated from his 96 siblings, Isaiah runs from cats, dogs, and hawks. He meets a regular brown mouse named Mikayla, who takes him home to her mischief. “Mischief” is the name for a mouse family. Mikayla’s mischief teaches Isaiah the finer art of stealing food in the pig-stye that is the home of the Brophy family. The Brophys are such slobs that the pickings are good and the opportunities plentiful.

Hailey is a human girl living next to the Brophys. She makes Isaiah’s acquaintance when he raids her kitchen in search of some crumb cake. She makes up excuses not to go to school because she is bullied about her white hair and pale blue eyes. She and Isaiah make a connection because they look different from others in their species. And because Isaiah can read and type, the two communicate and become friends.

As easy as this life is, Isaiah is not content to live the good life knowing that his own mischief is penned up and part of a giant, dangerous science experiment. With the help of Hailey, Mikayla’s mischief, and every mouse in the surrounding area, Isaiah mobilizes a rescue operation to deliver his family from a terrible fate.

Isaiah and the others learn that the unique traits that make them noticeable have nothing to do with important they are to the world. They are strong, with good hearts that want to help others and make things right. Joe Sutphin’s illustrations, especially of a bright eyed Isaiah and the hairless Sphinx cat, Lucifer, are charming and well done. The story moves along at a good pace and the characters have some depth.

This is solid middle grade fiction. The book length and subject is great for those precocious readers who have ability that exceeds their interest- and maturity level. 12 years old may be pushing it, but this would be a good classroom or family read aloud.

This book will be available December, 2016.

1 comment:

  1. I set this aside from my current book fair. I can't wait to read it and show it to the kids!