On the seventh day of Christmas, my blogger shared with me…
a book about a mouse on Christmas Eve!
Mousekin’s Christmas Eve, by Edna Miller
(1965, Prentice-Hall Books for Young Readers, ISBN 0-13-604454-9)
When the family moves out of the house where Mousekin has been living, he sets out on a wintry night to look for a new place to live. The dangers of the woods at night frighten him, and he is taken by surprise when the snow around him is suddenly awash in colorful lights. He finds that he has come upon a house that is full of warmth and happy noises, and he slips inside when everyone inside has gone to bed. He is dazzled by the glittering Christmas tree and eats his fill of crumbs and popcorn before he notices the crèche filled with hand-carved people and animals. He finds a place of rest and peace near the manger where the little baby lays.
This story tells the realistic tale of what might happen to a mouse whose house can no longer provide the food and warmth to which he is accustomed. The mouse behaves as a mouse would do; the writer only puts words to the sensations and experiences that a mouse, of course, would not be able to express. The story itself, told in third person, is simple and easy to follow despite the occasional vocabulary word that might be unfamiliar to young children, such as “globes” (in reference to the ornaments on the tree), “crèche,” and “rude” (as a synonym for “rough” or “crude”). Context and the illustrations help make the more difficult vocabulary immaterial, at least when the story is read aloud. A brief note at the end of the book explains the origins of the crèche figurines illustrated in the story.
The illustrations are very realistic with sparing detail in the backgrounds and fine detail in the characters and significant elements of the setting. Mousekin’s fur, the woodgrain of the window next to which he huddles, the branches of the Christmas tree—all are done in delicate detail that draws the reader into the beautiful picture they create. Edna Miller wrote and illustrated this book (and several others featuring Mousekin) and used a live whitefoot mouse as a model (which the back bookflap says she released into the wild again when she was finished with this book). Despite the age of the book, the realism of the images makes the illustrations timeless.
GirlChild’s Reactions: I had to make sure at first that GirlChild was following what was happening, that the people who had lived where Mousekin was had moved, so he had to find someplace else to live where there was food. However, after that first review, I felt like she was able to follow along well, and she loved looking at the pictures. When I asked her what her favorite part was, she said it was when the little mouse was safe. Awwww. She was also pretty interested in the popcorn he found, so we might do popcorn garlands for our tree this year (and hope no real mice get in, but I won’t tell GirlChild that)!
This is a totally adorable book. I wish it wasn’t out of print so I could find cheaper copies to buy of all Edna Miller’s books about Mousekin because GirlChild would love them! Guess I’ll be perusing the library shelves for more!
(She has many books, but they appear to all be out of print, so finding a cover image was difficult. These were the best I could do from Amazon even though there seem to be quite a few available for purchase (with customer images you may be able to see at amazon.com itself), some of which are collectibles. Check your local library for copies to read!)