We’ve recently realized that there are a lot of novels with mice as the main characters in our collection. When it came time to commemorate these pink-tailed rodents, we polled the whole NYSL crew to see which ones they liked most. Please enjoy these squeaky stories while snacking on some cheese?
Redwall | Brian Jacques
Redwall, the first novel in Brian Jacques’ renowned series, is a must-read for fantasy and adventure enthusiasts. The animals of Redwall, a peaceful village threatened by the scheming one-eyed rat Cluny the Scourge, are the focus of this tale. Matthias, the brave mouse, sets out on a journey to find the rare weapon he believes would help him defeat this enormous evil. Readers of all ages will love the book’s action, adventure, and excitement. Those who enjoy classic clashes between good and evil, as well as stories of daring knights and epic rescues, are in for a treat.
Young Fredle | Cynthia Voigt
We’ve all experienced a sense of disconnection from others at some point in our lives. Cynthia Voigt’s Young Fredle tells the story of Fredle, a mouse who has just been kicked out of his house after a chocolate-related mishap. On the voyage of self-discovery, beauty, and camaraderie that follows, he brings his readers along for the ride. Fans of Voigt’s Homecoming novel will appreciate the opportunity to revisit familiar topics in a new light. When it comes to children’s books and reading, Danielle is the best person to ask.
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH | Robert C. O’Brien
It’s like a love story between Beatrix Potter and Jason Bourne in this heartwarming Newbery Medal winner. Except for one thing: these National Institute of Mental Health fugitives are infused with intelligence as well as strength, making the notion almost dystopian. It doesn’t take a lab to display Mrs. Frisby’s bravery, inventiveness, and love for her family and the rat community, which she uses to her advantage in the face of catastrophic circumstances.
Basil of Baker Street | Eve Titus
When you run out of Sherlock Holmes, go to the baseboard for Basil and Dr. Dawson, who employ superb detection to hunt kidnappers through a happy mouse-sized Victorian era.
—Events Coordinator Sara Holliday
The Rescuers | Margery Sharp
Embark on a risky journey with the unusual trio of heroic mice known as The Rescuers. To release a Norwegian poet imprisoned in the Black Castle, their goal. Nils, Norway’s bravest mouse, Miss Bianca, a poised, brilliant, and elegant poet, and Bernard, a pantry mouse extraordinaire, embark on a mouse adventure that includes a fearsome but not overly intelligent cat. They travel by plane, boat, wagon, raft, and by their wits. Garth Williams’ charming illustrations enrich the well-told story, which was originally published in 1959. I’m torn between Nils studying Miss Bianca’s “map” and Miss Bianca riding Mamelouk the cat as my fave illustration. Readers from 6 to 106 will appreciate this reprint of a classic. Randy Levy, Librarian for Youth and Young Adults at the New York Public Library
Norman the Doorman | Don Freeman
Who hasn’t thought of living in a little mouse condo tucked away in an odd location, like the helmet of an armored suit, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art? If you’re a fan of Don Freeman’s whimsical tales and illustrations like I am, you’ll fall in love with Norman the mouse, who has a keen eye for aesthetics and delights in creating cheese still lifes and Calder-esque wire sculptures while also giving special tours to his well-dressed rodent cousins.
Originally published in 1959, this story has an intriguing premise and a dramatic character shift in the middle of a crowd of late 1950s New York City museum-goers.
Librarian/Interlibrary Loan Cathy McGowan, Circulation/Interlibrary Loan
Secrets at Sea | Richard Peck
A young orphaned mouse family from upstate New York embarks on an ocean voyage to join their humans on their journey to Victorian England in this story. Some of the people’s animal pals discover love as they try to locate a suitable spouse for one of their daughters. While Peck has long been known for his mastery of telling tales centered around human characters, his mastery of anthropomorphizing animals is on full display here. The book’s black and white images include people and mice dressed in delicate attire. If read aloud, expect gasps and chuckles from the compelling story.
The Mouse Mansion | Karina Schaapman
An import by a Dutch author is another book about mice that may inspire you to take a trip across the seas. Throughout several years, Schaapman built a truly astonishing “mousehouse,” and in this enormous picture book she offers glimpses into the detailed, colorful décor alongside entertaining short stories about the lives of Julia, Sam and their mouse companions. If you’re looking for a book that’s both educational and entertaining, this is it. In Amsterdam’s central library, one may see the original spectacular structure in person and marvel at its intriguing elements. —Children’s Librarian Susan Vincent Molinaro
The Tale of Despereaux | Kate DiCamillo
Despereaux Tilling was not expected to live past the time he was born. He was a miracle. Despite the odds, he will continue to defy them in the future. Even by mouse standards, he’s a little fellow with oversized ears. He is unwell and unable to adapt to his new role as a mouse, preferring to read rather than eat books. As a result of his family’s neglect, he is allowed to tour the castle alone. He meets and falls in love with Princess Pea during his wanderings. In this way, Kate DiCamillo’s The Tale of Despereaux gets underway. The Tale of Despereaux, despite its 2003 publication date, has the air of a classic. An excellent example of old-fashioned storytelling. The most heinous of criminals plan their evil schemes in secret. It’s full of surprises, thrills, and daring deeds. The story takes unexpected paths to reach a happily ever after. A little mouse named Despereaux, equipped only with a needle and thread, is the best part of the story, as it depicts an unlikely hero. The Acquisitions Assistant/Circulation Assistant is —Patrick Rayner
The Tale of Two Bad Mice | Beatrix Potter
Among mice, The Tale of Two Bad Mice by Beatrix Potter has the most memorable name. There has been a lot of nosing around in the nursery dollhouse windows by Hunca Munca and her husband Tom Thumb (the nasty mice of the title). Once they’ve been in and seen that all of the food is nothing more than painted plaster, you can imagine their fury! To make matters worse, the mice wreak havoc on the house, hurling doll gowns out the window and tearing apart the feather bed. The doll’s goods are reclaimed by Hunca Munca and Tom Thumb after Hunca Munca has a change of heart and realizes she might use them.
Even while this story is fantastic for babies and toddlers, older children will get just as much enjoyment out of it. Sly humor, beautiful visuals, and actual animals behind those bonnets and aprons make this a must-read. Colorful and hard vocabulary make this a fun read. As a result, parents who read Beatrix Potter to their children enjoy the opportunity to educate them on British slang and idioms. —Development Assistant Diane Srebnick
General Adult (& Mouse) Recommendations
Flowers for Algernon | Daniel Keyes
When Algernon is born, he will be a white mouse living in a New York City laboratory. An IQ-enhancing procedure appears to be working for both of them. Algernon is at the height of his newly found brilliance as he eats pretzels and drinks beer at the dinner table. Charlie uses him as a barometer to track Algernon’s growth and decline as a thinker. This heartbreaking narrative, despite its unusual location, is nevertheless a wonderful addition to your reading library. —Mia D’Avanza, Circulation Department Manager
“A Little Fable” | Franz Kafka (included in The Basic Kafka and The Great Wall of China)
There are fewer than 100 words in Kafka’s story, making it a “small.” Despite this, in a few lines, he introduces us to a mouse who takes on a life of its own, complete with plight, crisis, and doom. The mouse doesn’t have a good ending.