Riikka Jantti, Little Mouse, Scribble/Scribe, 1 August 2016, 40pp., $17.99 (hbk) ISBN 9781925321487
Little Mouse is an energetic toddler who delights in cheekily saying, “No!” whenever he is asked to do anything by his patient and caring mother. From getting dressed in the morning to brushing his teeth at night, there is a constant but loving battle of wills between Mummy Mouse and her mischievous child.
We follow Little Mouse and his mother through the activities of an ordinary day including going to daycare and the supermarket. Like most pre-schoolers, Little Mouse is full of curiosity and finds the demands to get dressed, eat dinner or stop playing, an imposition on his freedom. It is the infinite patience of the mother who chases, cajoles and sometimes physically carries Little Mouse to the next task that really captivates the reader’s attention.
Jantti’s beautiful, hand drawn illustrations are simple and realistic, with plenty in them for the young child to point to and talk about, but it is the expressiveness of the characters which is a delight to view. She has captured the exasperation of the mother with the occasional roll of her eyes and the boldness of Little Mouse in his gleeful defiance. It is a relationship all parents will recognise as the youngster tests his boundaries, and the tolerance of the adult is tried. It is an affectionate and warm relationship where the mother’s love overcomes any trial.
Little Mouse is a fun-filled look at the child/mother relationship and the everyday challenges of raising a toddler. Child readers may also engage in the text as they identify themselves in the frequent exclamation of “No!” and share the humour of the situation. Its minimal text and recognisable situations will make Little Mouse a read-aloud book that young children under five will enjoy hearing many times. As Little Mouse soundly sleeps on the final page we can only hope that tomorrow he will have learnt from today.
Reviewed by John Nolan