Ages 8 to 12.
The clarion call to adventure is irresistible to a certain kind of mouse. Not since Stuart Little has the heart of a valiant mouse beat quite so fiercely as that of Rory Stowaway in Meghan Marentette’s first novel, The Stowaways. It meets and exceeds all the expectations of a good mouse story, with a well-constructed and self-sufficient mouse world, a teeny-tiny hero set against impossible odds, and an adventure brimming with mystery that scampers from chapter to chapter.
Ever since Rory’s grandfather failed to return from a daring escapade into the World Beyond, Rory’s fusspot father keeps his family close to home—much to Rory’s disgust. Intent on solving the mystery of his grandfather’s disappearance, Rory braves a daunting series of obstacles, including a hurricane, a mouse-obsessed girl in a toyshop, a flock of scientists who experiment on mice (shiver!), and a large and fearsome cat.
This mouse family is completely human. Rory and his impulsive twin, Morgan, play together like real brothers, bickering and competitive, but ultimately loyal to each other. And a refreshing sense of the fallibility of grownups is evident in the family dynamics that play out between the over-protective father and the rebellious grandmother, with Rory caught in the middle.
While the suggested reading level is for children ages 8 to 12, The Stowaways is an entertaining read-aloud book for ages 6 and up. Kids will love the old-fashioned feel of the hardcover book, with its bright red ribbon bookmark, the maps on the end papers, and the completely charming mice illustrations by Dean Griffiths. Let’s hope it is the first of a series.
Charis Cotter is a freelance writer who lives in Newfoundland. Her children’s novel, The Swallow: A Ghost Story, will be published by Tundra Books in 2014.
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Word: The Stowaways