cover image The Mouse Who Carried a House on His Back

The Mouse Who Carried a House on His Back

Jonathan Stutzman, illus. by Isabelle Arsenault. Candlewick, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-536-21679-0

Generosity literally knows no bounds for a small, red-nosed mouse named Vincent in this picture book. Having the gift of knowing where he needs to be, he sets down the eponymous, tiny portable house—depicted as a home’s outline—at the top of a hill, and extends offers of shelter and hospitality to all comers. The parade of tired, hungry, and rain-drenched travelers soon includes a bullfrog and a family of hedgehogs, each of whom initially expresses skepticism about the tiny house’s capacity (“I doubt I’ll be able to fit inside your dining room,” says a large cat). But the mouse knows otherwise: as the number of guests expands, so does Vincent’s digs, conjuring chairs at the food-laden farmhouse table, and ample room—despite other guests’ initial protestations—for a huge, hungry, wet bear (“all animals are welcome,” Vincent insists). It may confuse some readers that Stutzman (Bear Is a Bear) refers to a single, ever-growing house, while Arsenault’s (Just Because) Matisse-leaning cut paper, gouache, and ink illustrations show multiple, freestanding adjacent buildings proliferating to encompass an entire gatefold. But author and illustrator are definitely on the same page in affirming an all-too-timely message of open doors and open hearts. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Elena Giovinazzo, Pippin Properties. Illustrator’s agent: Kirsten Hall, Catbird Productions. (Aug.)