cover image Bless This Mouse

Bless This Mouse

Lois Lowry, illus. by Eric Rohmann, Houghton Mifflin, $15.99 (160p) ISBN 978-0-547-39009-3

An endangered community of church mice stars in Lowry's old-fashioned animal fantasy. When the mice of St. Bartholomew's—already fearing the annual Blessing of the Animals that brings an onslaught of cats into their home—learn that too many mouse sightings have prompted kind Father Murphy to call in the dreaded "Great X" (exterminator), their Mouse Mistress, the commanding Hildegarde, plots an exodus to the unknown territory of Outdoors. "Hildegarde had an EX of her own now to plan... a special kind of EX she had learned about from listening to readings from the Bible." "Peopled" with characters no less endearing for being stereotypical—a loudmouthed adolescent, a learned elder, a loyal and somewhat foolish cohort, and a disagreeable contender for Hildegarde's position—the book is an impeccably constructed, good-humored adventure filled with master plans, near disasters, and brave rescues, all gently frightening for readers even younger than the target audience. Lowry (The Birthday Ball) creates a cozy church environment of lenient sextons, disheveled organists, and skittish Altar Guild ladies, from a mouse's point-of-view. Fun and lighthearted. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 9–12. (Mar.)