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The Mouse and His Child (Puffin Books) (original 1967; edition 1976)

by Russell Hoban

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6411515,139 (4.3)31
Member:chevrefeuille
Title:The Mouse and His Child (Puffin Books)
Authors:Russell Hoban
Info:Puffin Books (1976), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 192 pages
Collections:Your library, To read
Rating:
Tags:pb, mooched, mice, juv, line, hoban, illus

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The Mouse and His Child by Russell Hoban (1967)

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Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
As strange and disturbing as one expects from the pen of Hoban. This is closer to [b:Riddley Walker, Expanded Edition|776573|Riddley Walker, Expanded Edition|Russell Hoban|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1223635898s/776573.jpg|762606] than to Frances, for certain. It's deeply symbolic and I think that it would reward any number of readings. There's just so much going on beneath the surface, and listening to it was not the proper choice for a first go-round, as my mind sometimes wandered and I was constantly rewinding. Or whatever it's called now, backtracking? I don't know that I've got the fortitude to read it again, however, no matter how rewarding it would be.

The characters are unbelievably complex, the situations thorny and portentous, the plot sometimes hard to winkle out of the beautiful prose. I loved the snapping turtle with all my heart and found the Child realistically whiny on occasion.

It's a book I'll be thinking about for a long time.
( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
Once upon a time, on the counter of a toyshop in a small snowy town, there lived a clockwork mouse, who when wound up danced round and round with his son in his arms. Their friends, a very superior clockwork elephant and a seal who balanced a ball on her nose, lived in the reflected glory of the most magnificent dolls house ever seen. An opulently furnished three-storied dolls house with everything that an upper-class doll needs: an ebony piano; potted ferns in the conservatory; a telescope in the observatory; and silver dishes, plaster cakes and pastries on the white damask cloth on the dining room table. Such a perfect, peaceful and gentle picture.

Time moves on. The mouse and his child are sold, and played with carefully each Christmas until the fateful day when a vase falls on them, and they are broken and thrown away. Found and fixed by a passing tramp rummaging in the rubbish, the mouse and his child are set loose upon the world. And the world is very different from the happy, caring world of the toy shop. The toys immediately encounter Manny Rat, a gangster rat making his way ruthlessly in the sleazy and violent world of the town dump, who runs a slave workforce of thrown away clockwork toys. By the end of the third chapter, animals and toys are dropping like flies and there is carnage everywhere: a toy is murdered; Manny Rat's henchman is eaten by a badger; major warfare between tribes of shrews results in the survivors being mown down by a pair of weasels who in turn are dispatched by a horned owl with a talon through each of their brains. And one of the cast of an experimental theatre group is killed and eaten by its own audience when the play proves too avant garde for its taste.

So perhaps not the usual children's book about talking toys and animals. I read this to my son when he was seven or eight, and remember looking at the cover which shows the cuddly toy mice and wondering if he was a bit too old for it. By the end of a couple of chapters I was wondering whether he was too young. I've never read a children's book before or since which has been so different to what I was expecting. In the end, as the mouse and his child search for the security and happiness of their early days, it does become a heart-warming story of the importance of friends and family, but there's certainly some severe trials along the way.

This is a book that I love but one which can appeal to adults rather than children. But I think that for the right sort of child, and at the right age, that transitional age when they will still read about talking animals, but are hankering afer more excitement, it is a wonderful book too. Certainly my son really enjoyed it when we read it together. But not recommended for children of a particularly nervous disposition ... ( )
3 vote SandDune | Sep 28, 2012 |
Speaking/writing as a Hoban fan I declare "The Mouse and His Child" basic Hoban, and required reading for every member of LibraryThing. It is lyrical, adventurous, funny, sad, true to itself.

Russell Hoban died recently. Many years ago I was thrilled to speak to him on the phone. I had called his number from a London phone booth and he answered. His British fans always had wonderful celebrations on his birthday. Tho I have many of his novels this book and the story, "Bedtime for Frances" are true favorites I'll always reread. ( )
1 vote Esta1923 | Aug 14, 2012 |
Much loved when read to me as a child, but I couldn’t remember how it ended—a perfect reason to read it again, 33 years later. Surprisingly sophisticated and moving, with metaphorical depth i may have missed first time. i certainly missed the Samuel Beckett parody. ( )
1 vote adzebill | Jan 9, 2012 |
A wonderful book to read at Christmas. It's quite grim in places, but the mouse father and his child never give up even when they find themselves slaves of Manny Rat, or rusting at the bottom of a pond. Not a bit sentimental, but very uplifting, with a strong redemptive ending. ( )
1 vote PollyMoore3 | May 30, 2011 |
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Epigraph
The sense of danger must not disappear:
The way is certainly both short and steep,
However gradual it looks from her;
Look if you like, but you will have to leap,

W H Auden
Dedication
These pages are dedicated
to the memory of three fathers:
A.T Hoban,
Edward Lewis Wallant,
and
Harvey Cushman, under whose
Christmas tree I first saw
the mouse and his child dance.
-----------R.H.
February 1967
To Randy, my friend
to Harold, my healer
To Sarah, my soul
----------D.S
September 2001
First words
The tramp was big and squarely built, and he walked with the rolling stride of the long road, his steps too big for the little streets of the little town.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0439098262, Hardcover)

Like so many exceptional children's books, Russell Hoban's The Mouse and His Child clearly wasn't intended only for kid consumption. It certainly qualifies as a fantastic story for children: the characters are entertaining and memorable, the images powerful, the pacing tight, and the message unique and lasting. But this sweet, melancholy fable about a wind-up pair of tin mice--a dancing father and son joined at the hands--explores so many different themes of hope, perseverance, transformation, and the nature of existence (while still managing to be quite funny at times) that it's the sort of book that demands to be kept around for a lifetime of rereading.

The father and son's redemptive quest to become "self-winding" takes them through all sorts of trials, from the toy store to the dump to the swamp and back again, and all along the way the pair runs afoul of Hoban's well-realized and often menacing menagerie of characters, including the slave-driver Manny Rat, the distracted thinker Muskrat, and Crow and Mrs. Crow and their Caws of Art Experimental Theatre Group. (These last provide some of the best scenes in the book, getting a surprising amount of philosophical meat out of a play called The Last Visible Dog: "What doesn't it mean! There's no end to it--it just goes on and on until it means anything and everything, depending on who you are and what your last visible dog is.")

If you're only familiar with Russell Hoban from his Frances books (Bread and Jam for Frances), this gripping, sometimes disturbing, occasionally even violent novel might come as something of a surprise. But if you've read any of Hoban's later work, like Pilgermann or The Moment Under the Moment, then you know what this sophisticated and extraordinarily graceful writer is capable of, and why The Mouse and His Child deserves praise as one of the more profound children's works ever written. (Ages 9 to adult) --Paul Hughes

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:17:42 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Two discarded toy mice survive perilous adventures in a hostile world before finding security and happiness with old friends and new.

(summary from another edition)

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