________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 27. . . .March 14, 2014


Mouse Tales. (Happy the Pocket Mouse, Book 1).

Philip Roy. Illustrated by Andrea Torrey Balsara.
Vancouver, BC: Ronsdale Press, 2014.
32 pp., trade pbk., ebook & pdf, $9.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-55380-262-4 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55380-263-1 (ebook), ISBN 978-1-55380-264-8 (pdf).

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 3-6.

Review by Amber Allen.

**½ /4



“…if you tell me a bedtime story, I will be asleep even before you finish it. That’s what happens.”

“Well, I could tell you the story of Hansel and Gretel. But you might find it a little scary because it has a witch in it.”

“John. Don’t be silly. It’s only a story, so how can I be afraid? Besides, witches aren’t even real, so how can I be afraid of them?”


When Happy finds he cannot sleep, he asks John to tell him a bedtime story to help lull him into dreamland. John is hesitant because he doesn’t want to tell a story that may cause bad dreams for his little mouse companion. Happy isn’t worried; he knows the difference between reality and fiction…or so he thinks. Story time goes awry when John mentions in passing that witches “cook magic stews in big pots” using mice tails. All of a sudden, Happy doesn’t feel as brave. As the night drags on, neither friend is able to sleep as John attempts to calm Happy’s fears—hopefully while there is still time to get in a little shut eye before morning.

internal art      Philip Roy’s Mouse Tales is presented completely in the form of dialogue, with no descriptive prose in between. This interesting choice has the potential to complicate reading aloud. However, for the enthusiastic reader with the ability to put on multiple voices, it offers the potential to be even more engaging. This unique format introduces the characters and their relationship to one another faster than traditional stories which may appeal to reluctant readers. At the same time, the choice to use only dialogue limits the author and the story—especially in communicating the passing of time.

     Mouse Tales, the first volume in the “Happy the Pocket Mouse” series, is a very funny book for children. The interaction between John, the human, and Happy, the mouse, comes to life while offering a humourous take on classic fairy tales and the bed time routine. Andrea Torrey Balsara’s full-page illustrations help to expand and embellish the story by offering clues only hinted at in the text. The colour palette is perfect, using beautiful blues, greens, and purples to represent the time of night. She also conveys myriad emotions on Happy’s face, giving visual cues to the tone of the dialogue. Mouse Tales is a fun read for bedtime.


Amber Allen is a librarian in Toronto, ON, with a passion for children’s literature and writing.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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