cover image GOODBYE MOUSIE


Robie H. Harris, , illus. by Jan Ormerod. . S&S/McElderry, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-83217-8

Harris (It's Perfectly Normal) and Ormerod (Miss Mouse Takes Off) admirably and successfully tackle a child's first encounter with death, through the loss of a beloved pet. "When I woke up this morning, I tickled Mousie's tummy. But Mousie didn't wake up," says the unnamed narrator, a preschool-age boy. Author and artist both possess an acute sense of the boy's emotional trajectory. After his first outpouring of grief and anger (which Ormerod depicts in a stunning facial close-up), the boy focuses on preparations for Mousie's funeral, busily filling the coffin with mementos and then decorating it with "wiggly stripes." But his composure crumbles when he discovers a piece of toast missing from his plate: "Where did it go? Did it die too?" Acceptance finally comes after he and his parents bury Mousie, and it is authentically childlike: "So, maybe someday, I'll get another mouse," the boy says, stretched across the floor and contemplatively dawdling with Mousie's exercise wheel. "But not just yet." The artist's fluid pencil lines underscore the vulnerability of the boy and the poignancy of his story. Uplifting details (the boy's mouse slippers, a stuffed mouse toy) offer a glimmer of hope, and the solidity at the heart of her characterizations—especially in the portraits of the narrator seeking comfort from his parents—will be immensely reassuring to young readers. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)