cover image Clarice the Brave

Clarice the Brave

Lisa McMann, illus. by Antonio Caparo. Putnam, $17.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-593-32337-3

Delicately balancing hope and despair, McMann (the Unwanteds Quests series) lovingly brings to life the tale of ship’s mouse Clarice and her runt-of-the-litter brother, Charles Sebastian. Life aboard a ship at sea is all that cunning, pragmatic Clarice and intelligent yet impulsive Charles Sebastian have ever known. While they have plenty, dangers abound—including the “three horrid ship cats,” one of whom devoured their sister; disease, which killed their other siblings; and unexpected waves, which took their mother, leaving them with only each other. A mutiny, however, sets the siblings on a bleak, wondrous journey of self-discovery, as they search for one another and find salvation in the most unlikely places. Leaning heavily on the theme of loss, the novel normalizes feelings of sadness and grief for younger readers, relayed in an assured tone and elegant prose. Caparo’s full-page, fine-lined b&w illustrations emphasize the relationships from varying, carefully sketched angles. Told from the shifting viewpoints of each mouse, the narrative keenly focuses on the obstacles placed in their paths and the growth processes—both the positive and negative—each must follow to find their way to a new normal. Ages 8–up. Agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Oct.)