cover image LITTLE MOUSE


Lida Dijkstra, , illus. by Piet Grobler. . Front Street/Lemniscaat, $15.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-932425-06-2

This enchanting retelling of the "Mouse Bride" folktale is perhaps the best showcase yet for Grobler's (Carnival of the Animals ) fluidly executed, eccentric watercolor-and-ink illustrations. Here, an old hermit adopts a mouse daughter, whom he rescues from an owl, and aids her on a quest to find her a husband. The mouse desires "the strongest being on earth," so the hermit dutifully examines the credentials of the sun, a storm cloud, the wind and a mountain. But each defers to the might of the next (the sun can be blocked by the cloud, which can be blown away by the wind, etc.). The buck stops with a very eligible male mouse, whom the mountain declares even stronger than he. Dijikstra's brisk, straightforward text and familiar elements gives the book its ballast of timelessness, but it's the giddy glee emanating from Grobler's artwork that makes the story magic. He cherry-picks from a wide range of artistic traditions: the menagerie that follows the hermit everywhere is the stuff of decorative folk art, while the good-natured ascetic (who is such a gentle soul that a bird makes its nest on his hat) could take his place in an illuminated manuscript. Yet with all of Grobler's visual nudges and fillips, his pictures never feel self-indulgent. There's a sense of logic (however idiosyncratic) to every composition, and the ink lines and colors land on the page with the lightness of a zephyr. Ages 2-6. (Nov.)