Friday, March 2, 2018

Tumtum & Nutmeg: Adventures beyond Nutmouse Hall by Emily Bearn, illustrated by Nick Price

[Originally published 2009. This review has been updated.]

In the first story, two little mice named Tumtum and Nutmeg become helpful fairies for two neglected children. With the help of General Marchmouse, they defeat a Dahlesqe and horrific mouse-hater, Aunt Ivy.

In the second story, General Marchmouse ignores their wise warnings and is captured and taken to the school, where he is imprisoned with wild gerbils. But Nutmeg - and a group of pogo-ing ballerina mice - save the day.

In the third story, the General's impulsive adventuring once again lands him in trouble, when he and Tumtum and Nutmeg are captured by rat pirates. But with the help of the two children, who believe Nutmeg to be a good fairy, they manage to escape.

These little stories are a mixture of Borrowers and Redwall for the younger crowd. They tend a little towards the cute, an unavoidable trap when you're dealing with anthropomorphic mice, but will be quite enjoyable for younger children, especially those who may have enjoyed Jill Barklem's Brambly Hedge and aren't quite ready for Borrowers or Redwall.

This collection was previously purchased at my library and, since the individual books weren't available I didn't see a lot of kids going for this thick volume. For a long time it sat on our shelf, with occasional interest but no real fans. However, this past year I have had several strong, younger readers who actually want longer books that have this level of gentle humor and mild adventure. Several homeschooling families have fallen in love with these and I purchased the rest of the collected volumes. We even named our library gerbils after them!

Verdict: The length of the collected stories will discourage a lot of young readers and the separate volumes aren't available in the US. I wouldn't recommend this for every library, but if you have an audience that really loves this type of cozy mouse story they will be a strong purchase for your library.

ISBN: 978-0316027038; Published April 2009 by Little, Brown; Borrowed from the library

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