cover image The Mouse Mansion

The Mouse Mansion

Karina Schaapman. Dial, $18.99 (64p) ISBN 978-0-8037-4049-5

Dollhouse aficionados will be thunderstruck by Schaapman’s engrossing debut, a room-by-room exploration of an actual mansion built to the scale of tiny gray cloth mice. Opposite a table of contents, Schaapman provides a photo of the marvelous communal dwelling, constructed with cardboard and papier-mâché: a multistory, ramshackle abode complete with three vertiginous towers, a sidewalk shop level, and triple basement levels. In 17 chapters illustrated with close-up interior photographs, Schaapman describes everyday life for best friends Julia and Sam. The mice make pancakes, tend to Sam’s siblings, do laundry (amid real suds), and recover from chicken pox (Julia is covered with embroidered red stitches). Schaapman meticulously outfits every miniature chamber: dime-size dishes dry in a rack, postage-stamp posters decorate a music room, minuscule toys clutter children’s rooms. Subtle clues tell readers more: a matchbox-size Diary of Anne Frank rests on Julia’s chest of drawers, and on Friday night, she learns about Sabbath at Sam’s auntie’s apartment. The lived-in space—no fancy upper-class dollhouse—recalls Dickens’s London or, given Schaapman’s home city, Rembrandt’s Amsterdam. The mice lead humble, contented lives, and their mansion is sure to astonish. Ages 5–8. (Nov.)