cover image The True Story of a Mouse Who Never Asked for It

The True Story of a Mouse Who Never Asked for It

Ana Cristina Herreros, illus. by Violeta Lópiz, trans. from the Spanish by Chloe Garcia Roberts. Unruly, $22.95 (108p) ISBN 978-1-59270-320-3

The first book from Enchanted Lion’s new imprint centering innovative picture books for older readers, this retelling of a Balearic folktale strips out the moralizing and revives a story of startling violence and insight. When a small, white, red-eyed mouse, “very neat and very hardworking,” finds a coin, she buys a cabbage and builds a house for herself out of it. She’s subsequently pursued by a series of suitors attracted by her character and her property; after rejecting donkeys, ducks, and cats as too raucous, she marries the “kitten that seemed the most defenseless”—with predictably disastrous consequences. Bold illustrations in neutrals, blood red, and royal blue tell a parallel story that operates as an interpretive cipher and the narrative’s key; though a contextualizing note within the volume would doubtless be helpful for some readers, the book’s brilliance lies in its intriguing disjunction between word and image. As the narrative advances, accompanied by images of domestic and personal objects instead of donkeys and ducks, the solution to the illustrated puzzle reveals a nuanced feminist interpretation of the original folktale, and the promise of healing through autonomous creative fulfillment. Ages 13–up. [em](June) [/em]