In the first story, A true home, little Mona Mouse is lost and alone in the woods, having been flooded out of her latest temporary home. All she owns is a little walnut suitcase with a heart carved into it. When she washes up on the doorstep of the Heartwood Hotel, she can hardly believe it's true when she's invited into the grand hotel and allowed to stay for a night - and then for the season as a maid. She makes many mistakes, but also does a great deal of good and is determined to keep trying and make a home at the hotel. But cranky Tilly the squirrel, the other maid, clearly doesn't want her there and there's something dangerous in the forest. Will Mona find a new home or will she have to leave once again?
In the second story, The greatest gift, it's the coldest part of the year and the Heartwood Hotel has settled down to hibernate and rest. But there's still lots of work for Mona and Tilly, the maids, and Mona just can't seem to keep out of trouble. First, she accidentally offends an important guest, then she finds out that there are a lot of things her orphaned childhood left her ignorant about. When she tries to make a gift for her new friends, she finds herself suspected of being a thief! Where is all the food disappearing to? What will they do when the guests unexpectedly wake up early from hibernation? And who is stealing all the food? It's up to Mona to solve the mystery and discover what friendship and home are truly all about.
Stephanie Graegin has proved her ability to create exquisite miniature drawings in the lovely picture book Little fox in the forest and fellow miniature lovers will coo over her detailed drawings of tiny creatures and their accessories. Readers looking for a cozy story of family, home, and woodland celebrations will fall in love with this delightful new series.
Verdict: This might well be my favorite new beginning chapter book of the year. Full of heart and hope, Mona learns about home, friendship, and reminds the other creatures of the Heartwood Hotel what their tree home is all about as she welcomes guests, learns new skills, and experiences the joys and adventures of life in the woods. Highly recommended.
A true home
The greatest gift
Published July 2017 by Disney; ARC provided by publisher; Purchased for the library