cover image Mouse Creeps

Mouse Creeps

Peter Harris. Dial Books, $14.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-2183-8

A mouse on the loose sets off an outrageous chain of events that circles back to the perpetrator in this attractive British import. From the frightened horse that knocks over the churn that wakes the ducks that attract the hunters that shoot the tree that shakes loose its acorns that interrupt a battle, the entire tale is told in four-word rhyming couplets: ""Acorns tumble. General stumbles""; ""Soldiers roar. End war."" Harris's (Have You Seen Max?) skeletal text adroitly conjures up a robust story that is further fleshed out by Cartwright's (The Firebird) humorous, vividly stylized illustrations. Tidy, almost folkloric images are layered for a collage-like effect. The tone ranges from the recklessly slapstick, as when gleeful rooting pigs put an end to the fanfare of battle, to the sweet, as when the drummer returns home (""Father at door. Soldier no more""). While the spare text requires readers to make connections they'll likely miss the first time through, the pithy rhymes will encourage repeat excursions. They will also appeal especially to beginning readers. Book amuses. Reader enthuses. Ages 4-8. (June)