Melissa Glenn Haber, Author . Dutton $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-525-47119-6

Readers might hear distant echoes of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH and The Borrowers in this inventive fantasy, Haber's debut. Hercules, a 10-year-old boy, is "not much taller than a mouse would be if it stood on its hind legs." Hercules spends his days teaching himself from library books and listening to the squeakings of the mice who live in his bedroom wall, gradually coming to understand their language. Terrified that his mother will make him attend school (he's observed the cruelty of the students), Hercules slips through the mouse hole behind his bookcase and discovers a placid rodent city constantly lit by a sun made of cheese, where content residents fill their time playing and eating "mice cream" in outdoor cafes. Hercules is truly happy for the first time in his life; everything is perfectly scaled to his size and—best of all—there is no unkindness. But when he stumbles upon the burned-out remains of an identical mouse city, Hercules realizes that all is not idyllic in this world within the walls, and he vows to save his oblivious mouse friends from a similar fate. Taking creative liberties with the concepts of space and time, Haber reveals the multilayered challenge—and frightening villains—that the diminutive hero faces. Memorable characters include a wish-granting fairy who lives in the distant future and a gutsy, tart-tongued girl who sprinkles her conversations with bumbled aphorisms and literary allusions. A clever, satisfying saga. Ages 9-13. (June)

Reviewed on: 06/30/2003
Release date: 06/01/2003
Paperback - 205 pages - 978-0-14-240216-0
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-4618-7
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