CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number 24. . . .March 3, 2017
Mouse Vacation. (Happy the Pocket Mouse, Book 4).
Philip Roy. Art by Andrea Torrey Balsara.
Vancouver, BC: Ronsdale Press, 2016.
32 pp., hardcover, $12.95.
Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 3-7.
Review by Amber Allen.
“I know, Happy: why don’t we both make a list of the places we’d like to go, and then pick one?”
“Why not? Half the fun of a vacation is planning it.”
“Oh, I’m so excited!”
After hearing about a neighbour’s recent solo trip to Alaska, Happy the Pocket Mouse is convinced that he and his friend John should go on an adventurous vacation. John, the more grounded of the two, tries to work with his mouse pal to plan a vacation to a relaxing local destination, but Happy will not be satisfied with anything short of amazing. Despite John’s insistence that they cannot afford a lavish holiday, Happy lists off places like the Taj Mahal and Egypt as his ideal choices. In the end, compromise wins when John discovers an interesting nautical event happening in the closest big city. It may not be New Zealand, but Happy eagerly agrees to take the overnight bus to visit the tall ships on a vacation that suits both of the friends perfectly.
Mouse Vacation is the fourth book in a series of stories written exclusively in dialogue. This unique stylistic device is definitely not for everyone, and it requires a creative orator for reading aloud, but it also allows for a lot of humour and bonding of characters. Happy the mouse is the perfect representation of the adventurous child, one longing to see the world while John is the prudent parent with an eye on budget and responsibilities at home. With wit and whimsy, Roy creates a back and forth that could easily be heard in any home. This makes it a great story to start a conversation about planning and saving for a big trip. I love that the pair discover a way to explore something new in a way that satisfies them both. The theme of compromise runs through this entire series.
The full-page vibrant illustrations are lovely as Torrey Balsara brings exotic locals like the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower, and the Egyptian pyramids to life on the page. They are gorgeous depictions of well-known tourist attractions. She successfully offers visual interest to a story that takes place entirely in one room, during one conversation, thereby helping the reader to be more fully engaged.
One drawback of the text is a slight repetitiveness, though this could definitely be intentional on the part of the author trying to expose the monotony of some conversations with children unaware of financial restrictions. It may not have as broad an appeal as some other stories for this age group, but I’d recommend Mouse Vacation to both those who have followed the series so far and to new readers seeking a text with humour and originality.
Amber Allen is a librarian in Toronto, ON, with a passion for children’s literature and writing.
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