cover image Mouse Mess

Mouse Mess

Linnea Riley. Blue Sky Press (AZ), $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-590-10048-9

Just about every child can appreciate disorder for disorder's sake, so Riley's (Outside, Inside) wickedly witty tale of a pint-sized hero should elicit plenty of giggles and grins. A brown mouse wakes up with late-night cravings, but he's not content with merely snacking on the sleeping household's larder. He dives into a pile of corn flakes, builds castles out of packed brown sugar and pops the caps off all the condiments. Then, surveying the mess he's made without remorse (""`Who made this awful mess?' asks Mouse. `These people need to clean their house!'""), he washes up in a teacup and goes to bed. The story's snappy couplets demand to be read with relish; as Mouse luxuriates in his teacup bath, the text reads, ""Gurgle, bubble, water flows,/ soaks the jam between his toes."" The illustrations heighten the drama. By embellishing cut-paper images with sponge applications of deep-toned watercolor, Riley creates pictures with a velvety, almost palpable texture--children will be tempted to run their fingers over the chubby rodent to feel the nap of his coat. Shifting perspectives in panel vignettes show Mouse struggling to spread peanut butter with a giant knife or dangling from a jar of jam; then Riley pulls back to give the panoramic view of a kitchen in chaos. The use of an almost constant black background underscores the lateness of the hour and the delicious illicitness of Mouse's assault. Children will delight in his narrow escape through a hole in the wall as the family descends the stairs at daybreak. Ages 4-7. (Oct.)