Monday, June 16, 2008

Book Review: Mrs. Marlowe's Mice

Title: Mrs. Marlowe’s Mice
Author: Frank Asch
Ages: 5 to 8 years
Hard Cover: 32 pages
Illustrator: Devin Asch
Publisher: Kids Can Press
ISBN: 978-1-55453-022-9
Publication: 2007

Mrs. Eleanor Marlowe leads a double life. During the day she works at the Purrington Street Library as a respected feline librarian. By night she harbors a family of mice. Every day she has to sneak by her nosy neighbor Mrs. Godfrey who suspects Mrs. Marlowe of hiding something.

Mrs. Marlowe’s mice keep the apartment spic and span while she works and she keeps her mice well fed with lots of cheese. Some of the mice wonder if Mrs. Marlowe is trying to fatten them up for the kill.

“Oh, what a horrid thing to say Albert!” squeaked Aunt Gerty. “You know perfectly well that Mrs. Marlowe invited us to come live with her out of the kindness of her heart.”

“And at great risk to her own welfare, I might add!” said Grandpa Paul.

Mrs. Marlowe lives in Catland and cats that shelter mice are severely punished. The Department of Catland Security keeps a close watch for mice and those cats who would harbor them. One day two security cats; Lieutenant Manx and Sergeant Baxter, come pounding on Marlowe’s door demanding to search the premises.

Can Mrs. Marlowe out wit her accusers? Everything is going fine until little Billy falls from his hiding place. No one could have predicted what happened next. Is Mrs. Marlowe a mouse sympathizer or not? There is just enough suspense to the story to give a child’s imagination a lot of imagining room. No one knows for sure whose side Mrs. Marlowe is really on until the end of the book.

Adding to the suspense are outstanding computer generated graphics. The pictures complement the book's overall tone and theme and look a little like tinted photographs. The composition and sequence of the pictures give the book a movie picture quality. The Computer illustrations show a mixture of realism and surrealism that go along with the book’s creative use of pure fantasy. Toddlers and young elementary students will enjoy this book about good cats versus bad cats.

About the author: Frank Asch and Devin Asch are a father and son team. Frank Asch has been writing and illustrating children’s books for over 40 years. Devin Asch is an accomplished photographer and illustrator. Mrs. Marlowe’s Mice is the second major collaboration between this talented father and son team. Their previous book together, Mr. Maxwell’s Mouse, has garnered many honors and starred reviews.

The graphics in Mrs. Marlowe’s Mice is what first caught my eye on the library shelf. Adults may read other perspective views into the plot and this is what makes the book so original. The moral of the story? If cats and mice can find a way to get along, then anything is possible.
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