Tuesday, June 14, 2011

5. Charming Animal Heroes

These stories will leave kids feeling great and ready to take on the world.

Young Fredle, by Cynthia Voigt, illustrated by Louise Yates (Alfred A. Knopf, $16.99, ages 9-12, 240 pages, 2011) A brave kitchen mouse breaks the the most important rule of mice, to keep safe, and is tossed out of his nest behind a pantry wall and into the dangerous world outside. Living behind the lattice of a porch, he faces unthinkable perils: raptors that nose-dive from the sky, snakes that lurk in barns and a rowdy band of raccoons that take him captive. But he also makes delightful discoveries -- a world of colors never afforded him by the dim pantry, twinkling lights in the night sky, the taste of dew on a blade of grass and one morning, a bright peel of orange left as a gift. Newbery Medalist Voigt weaves a wondrous tale of a mouse who dares to do things differently. The great message here: you might be surprised at what you can accomplish when you need to do something or really want to. This is a book that leaves you wanting to yell out "Woo-Hah."

Bless This Mouse, written by Lois Lowry and illustrated by Eric Rohmann (Houghton Mifflin, $15.99, ages 9-12, 160 pages, 2011) A pile of pink mouselets nesting in a mop in the sexton's closet?! This just won't do. With the annual Blessing of the Animals fast approaching, Hildegarde, the mouse mistress at St. Bartholomew's, is frantic. Father Murphy has been tolerant of mouse droppings in the past, but he won't think twice about calling the Great X, the exterminator, if parishioners spot mice scurrying by the pews. The last time the Great X came, half of Hildegarde's colony was wiped out. But try as she might to clamp down on reproduction and visibility, the worst happens: the Altar Guild sees the mouselets playing hide-and-seek. Now the colony's only hope is to flee to the graveyard and hunker down until the poison has passed. But will they find safety in the church after fumigation? And is it fair that other animals get to be blessed on the feast day of St. Francis and not mice? A sweet and wonderful tale from a Newbery Medalist.

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