cover image Town Mouse & the Country Mouse

Town Mouse & the Country Mouse

B. Watts, Aesop, Bernadette Watts. NorthSouth, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-55858-987-2

Watts (Harvey Hare, Postman Extraordinaire) makes uniformly pretty pictures of sweet little pink-eared mice, but her story, devoid of any element of danger when the mice visit one another's environs, makes for a rather bland retelling of the Aesop fable. The moral, of course, is that there's no place like home. A sense of menace is utterly missing from this bowdlerized version: ""The tall buildings rearing up on both sides looked sinister to her,"" Watts writes of the country mouse's entrance into the city. But the city itself doesn't look so bad (though the town mouse says, ""It's dangerous out there!"")--in fact, the streets are littered, but deserted. Her urban counterpart's foray into the country is even more benign: ""She found the smell of damp earth strange. How small everything was here! And yet quite comfortable, somehow."" The story ends with a stiff hug and a promise to meet again. Readers may find themselves wishing that a hungry cat or bird of prey had been lurking among the pages to drive home Aesop's moral. Ages 5-8. (Oct.)