Mandia Robertson, Mortimer Goes to School, Forty South Publishing, January 2019, 24 pp.,RRP $19.95 (hbk), ISBN 9780987628916
Mandia Robertson, Mr and Mrs Mouse Move In, Forty South Publishing, January 2019, 24 pp., RRP $19.95 (hbk), ISBN 9780987628923
In Mortimer Goes to School, the first day of school has arrived, but rather than being excited, Mortimer feels sick. His tummy and head hurt and he wants to stay home. He tries to convince his parents he will be well behaved if they let him stay at home, but his parents help him prepare and take him to meet his new teacher. She is friendly and supportive, helping him overcome his tears and introducing him to the other students. Having made friends, he enjoys learning, and at the end of the year comes top of the class. This element of competition around academic achievement at the end detracts from the basic message of the book, that school can be good when you have friends and a caring teacher.
In Mr and Mrs Mouse Move In, two mice move into the narrator’s home and quickly disrupt those who live there – mainly the cat, whose mat they steal, and the dog. They start gathering paper, rags and socks, and soon have a litter of six baby mice. This is the end of the line for the dog, who moves out, while the cat goes crazy, swinging from the lampshade to avoid the mice. Unfortunately, Mr and Mrs Mouse changes tense halfway through the story, which disrupts the flow of the story.
These whimsical little hard cover books are very short, only ten double pages to each one. Both stories are told in simple verse, giving them a nursery rhyme feel. The pictures are line drawings with accents of colour, featuring cute animals drawn in a simple style with a dash of humour which will appeal to very young readers.
Reviewed by Rachel Le Rossignol