cover image The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse

The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse

Helen Ward. Candlewick, $16.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6098-7

Life-size flora and fauna grace this retelling from Ward (Unwitting Wisdom: An Anthology of Aesop’s Fables), who opens with seasonal images of spring blooms, autumn apples, and winter snowfall of the woodland where the country mouse makes his home. After the mouse’s cousin, “a fine, sleek city mouse,” arrives, the newcomer praises cosmopolitan living. “In the city, we dine on rich, exotic foods in sumptuous surroundings,” boasts the charcoal-gray urban rodent; meanwhile, their creekside setting, pictured in radiant straw gold and grassy green, is plenty sumptuous itself. When winter comes, the country cousin journeys to a glittering metropolis circa 1930, “where the cold sky met great towers of smooth stone and glass.” The town mouse lives in an opulent high-rise, where the mice dart through an overrich Christmas banquet, pursued by a pug in a party hat: “As they ran, the country mouse remembered with fondness his own simple but quiet meals.” Full-bleed pages showcase Ward’s blend of luscious, naturalist illustrations and flat backdrops. First published in the U.K., this updated fable pictures opposing ways of life, with farm pleasures coming out ahead. Ages 4–7. (Sept.)