A cautionary tale for mice reminiscent of Carroll’s Jabberwocky!
Out in the open, in the clear,
Where any wisenmouse would fear,
Jam licks his paw, he grooms an ear,
And never hears approaching hisssss . . .
What will happen to the brave mouse Jam when he breaks the rules and goes for a moonlit adventure against the advice of the elder mice?
Award-winning illustrator Barry Moser has created a dark and vivid mouse world to complement this cautionary tale full of clever nonsense words and rhyming prose that will keep kids on the edge of their seats.
In this cautionary tale about a mouse named Jam Boy who learns to follow the rules, Moser’s dark illustrations set a menacing tone while Doyen’s verse will be a challenge for the book’s target audience. Newcomer Doyen’s puns and invented words are sometimes clever, as when the mice are out at night “scoutaprowl” and Jam Boy escapes from a snake by quickly “scritchscrambl[ing] in a log!” However, the complex text often sounds as if the imaginary words were conceived to rhyme rather than to make a Jabberwocky-like, off-kilter kind of sense (“They runtunnel through the riddle—/ Secret ruts hid inbetwiddle—/ But one mousling jams the middle!/ Whilst he goofiddles, others howl”). After Jam Boy’s escape, the text awkwardly announces, “Mouse years go by...” and the reader next sees Jam Boy as a bearded “eldermouse” warning that “The world afield is dangerouse.... Be Forewarned!” Moser’s (Hogwood Steps Out) paintings, on the other hand, are a marvel of nighttime beauty, the rice paddies lit by a yellow moon and filled with expressive mice and animals who witness the story’s events. Ages 4–7. (Aug.)