Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Book Review: Tumtum and Nutmeg
Tumtum and Nutmeg: Adventures Beyond Nutmouse Hall
by Emily Bearn
Illustrated by Nick Price
It always surprises people when in the midst of a serious discussion of library policies, information literacy, sustainability in the current economy, etc--I can suddenly vacillate to talking about the cute new mouse book I'm reading.
Fortunately, as they're shaking their head, I have a lot of talk about. Bearn has combined three short novels that are paired beautifully with Price's detailed drawings.
Tumtum and Nutmeg live in a broom closet long hidden behind a dresser. They live in style, with many bed and bathrooms, and a glorious ballroom that isn't often used. Their residence is part of a ramshackle cottage where an absentminded-professor father and his children Arthur and Lucy live. Having no children of their own, the mice decide to take on the human children, caring for their clothes and doing some repairs to the cottage.
In the first story we meet the mice as Nutmeg decides she'd like to help the children. When their evil aunt arrives and poisons Tumtum, Nutmeg gains assistance from the local General Marchmouse to thwart her. Nutmeg is sadly, given little credit for her various engenuity --though she writes back and forth with Lucy and Arthur, who dub her a good fairy, especially when they drive away the aunt. In their second and third tales, General Marchmouse, who obviously doesn't have enough to do, spurs the two less-adventuresome mice, into situations where they run against rats, sinking ships, pogo sticks, gerbils, and a teacher who doesn't like rodents.
The stories are a delightful and quick read. While I was a little skeptical at Tumtum spending the days reading and eating and lounging whilst Nutmeg bustles about the kitchen--one certainly feels sympathy that their tranquility is so often disrupted by their near neighbor. Bearn provides a lot of detail that brings to life how much differently things are viewed from mouse size (one pork sausage, 6" long, feeds several hundred mice).
It's a thick book, being a 3-in-1, just over 500 pages. But it will capture the heart of the readers as they cheer Nutmeg and Tumtum through their adventures and safely home. For mouse lovers everywhere.