cover image Mice Are Nice

Mice Are Nice

. Philomel Books, $15.95 (45pp) ISBN 978-0-399-21495-0

Like the pearl-gray ears of the deer mouse which inspired this collection of poems about the pitter-pattering creatures, the illustrations here are simply exquisite. And as in Cats Are Cats , Young and Larrick's stellar previous collaboration, Young's delicate charcoal and pastel drawings are dominated by shades of brown and black. The depictions of mice seem to be infinitely varied--a mouse clings to an oar in a cloud-like sea (in John Ciardi's ``The Light-House-Keeper's White-Mouse''), another hangs from a take-out food carton by what Theodore Roethke calls its ``lizard-feet.'' A cigar box and an overturned bottle--``space enough, / Even in / Small spaces'' for a mouse, writes Valerie Worth--become in Young's hands rich studies of light and form. Although the inclusion of some poems seems redundant, even the less interesting works are given depth, humor and drama by the intensity and beauty of Young's deceptively simple drawings, in which the light of the moon and stars is almost palpable. All ages. (Oct.)