“These so-called bleak times are necessary to go through in order to get to a much, much better place.”
— David Lynch
Welcome to my stop on The Coming Darkness blog tour. A big thank you to Sofia at Midas PR for the invitation to take part, and to Moonflower Publishing for the gifted copy of the book.
A little sidenote on the author…
Greg Mosse is an actor, director, and writer with a long career in the theatre producing plays and musicals. He is also husband to the bestselling author Kate Mosse. So, he had quite a lot to live up to when in 2020, he decided to take advantage of the unending stream of COVID lockdowns (for which I have nothing more to show than one short story) to fulfil a long-held ambition of producing his first novel – The Coming Darkness.
NB. I will confess to having never read any of Kate Mosse’s work – not even Labyrinth. It’s one for the ‘to read’ list.
Onto the book….
I’ve had a love of dystopian fiction, ever since taking a glorious module on ‘utopias and dystopia’ as part of my undergrad politics degree. And, while it’s unlikely anything modern will ever surpass Make Room! Make Room! or 1984 (though Naomi Alderman’s The Power was damn good), this sounded scarily relevant to what is going on in the world today, so I was very excited to give it a go. I was not disappointed.
Mosse’s The Coming Darkness is set just a few years into our own future, and all too familiar themes of infection control, quarantine, climate change, and extreme geopolitical unrest that make it feel more of a prediction of things to come than a work of fiction. A prophecy of the bleak future that awaits us as we carry on along a path of almost certain destruction.
Set in Paris in 2037, in a time of poverty, exclusion, and disease, with the earth tipping dangerously close to complete environmental collapse (uncanny isn’t it?), The Coming Darkness follows the tale of Alexandre Lamarque, a disillusioned French special agent on the hunt for eco terrorists.
Alex notices signs of a new terror group – one that is widespread and reaches the highest levels – but experience has taught him there is no one he can trust. In search of the truth, Alex follows a trail of clues through an ominous spiral of events – from a theft from Norwegian genetics lab and a sequence of brutal child murders, to a chaotic coup in Northern Africa.
Finally, the stories come together, and the full picture is revealed in the coming darkness. Looming like a spectre on the horizon, the darkness foretells a plot of global level destruction the likes of which the human race has never seen before. It’s up to Alex to try and stop it before it’s too late.
I will be honest and say that I struggled a little with the book at first. The author has quite a distinct style – fast paced, with short chapters rapidly switching between merging storylines, and there is an awful lot of scene setting in the preliminary sections, with a seemingly unending list of characters, and a huge amount of technical information. As such it was a bit difficult to try and tie everything together. That said, I persevered – and would thoroughly recommend other readers do the same, because you will be rewarded.
The Coming Darkness was a great read. The book would probably benefit from a cast list of bios to allow readers to look up characters mentioned in previous chapters (I certainly would have appreciated this), but this is really my only gripe. The plot was gripping, and well executed, and I certainly found it difficult to put down as I got further into the story.
On the whole, I would thoroughly recommend this book for anyone interested in discovering new thrillers, or looking for an exciting read to get them the darker months.
“We all live in a house on fire, no fire department to call; no way out, just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down with us trapped, locked in it.”
– Tennessee Williams
As a fan of translated fiction, and decade-long learner of Spanish, I’m not sure why it took me so long to pick up a Spanish translation – but I’m very happy to have rectified this, and even happier that my first dip into Mexican fiction was Ave Barrera’s The Forgery.
I’ve been burned by translated works in the past – and know that not all languages lend themselves well to an English translation – but I can’t deny that I was well and truly ready to fall in love with this book and I’m so relived to say that it did not disappoint.
I was drawn to The Forgery on a very personal level. Mexico as a country is very close to my heart – my husband’s family are from Mexico, and we recently honeymooned in Guadalajara, I’m also a huge fan of Mexican art (Frida Kahlo in particular) so The Forgery ticked all my boxes.
José Federico Burgos is a suffering artist turned copyist, and soon to be forger– any dreams he once had of making it big have failed, he is down on his luck and struggling to make rent, his beat-up truck and a half-pack of crackers the only possessions to his name. That is until he meets Horacio Romero.
Horacio is an antiques dealer, collector, and hoarder of fine things. At the very heart of Horacio’s collection is La Morisca, a splendid sixteenth-century panel, around which the very bones of his family home have been constructed. Horacio can offer José the money he needs to make all his problems disappear if he can create an exact forgery of La Morisca – perfect enough to fool ‘the heirs’.
At first wary of falling once more into the murky waters of forgeries, José is powerless to resist Horacio’s offer – or is it something else? – after first setting eyes on the magnificent altarpiece.
“Young man, do not look too long at that painting, or you will sink into despair”
The Forgery jumps between timelines: Ella Fitzgerald LPs and almond-scented memories in the dilapidated artist’s studio and confused fever dreams of painted flames in the high-ceilinged hallways of the city hospital give way to José’s entrapment and resulting surrealist nightmare.
I’ve no doubt that the Forgery is just as compelling in its native Spanish as in the translation by Ellen Jones and Robin Myers. It is authentic, unspoiled, and evidently very well researched, paying homage to many great Mexican artists and revealing the bloody secrets behind historical artistic techniques. The book comes alive – from the dusty, sun-stained streets, cafés, and cantinas of Guadalajara to La Tona’s tiled kitchen, the deserted pool, and the twisting jacaranda tree by Isabel’s French doors. I feel as though I could walk through the grounds of Horacio’s house – though you’ll understand my reluctance to enter the chapel.
This curious novella will send you through a bizarre and dreamlike labyrinth where you encounter all manner of weird and wonderful characters – including a charming vagabond with toothache aptly named ‘Socket’ – and leave you desperately attempting to reach your own conclusions on the real story behind La Morisca within 170 short pages.
If you are a fan of the surreal, and up for asking a few questions that you may not find an answer to, then I would thoroughly recommend you add The Forgery to your ‘to read’ list.
Translated from the original Spanish by Charco Press, and accomplished translators, Ellen Jones and Robin Myers, The Forgery was originally published in Mexico to critical acclaim in 2016. To find out more or to purchase a copy of the book (in English or Spanish) please visit Charco Press online.
I was sent a free copy of The Forgery in exchange for an honest review.
Authors and illustrators Celina Buckley, Jessica Meserve and Puck Koper came together to celebrate the publication of their new books ‘The Salmon Of Knowledge’, ‘What Clara Saw’ and ‘Where Is Your Sister?’ at Heffers bookshop in Cambridge on 24th April.
The Cambridge-educated authors and illustrators secured book deals following the successful completion of master’s degrees in children’s illustration at the prestigious Cambridge School of Art.
Their books, which each have something unique and appealing to offer young readers, were launched in an intimate ceremony attended by local Cambridge book lovers, and regulars to Heffers Children’s Bookshop.
I caught up with the authors before the ceremony, to talk about their inspiration for being a children’s book author and, crucially, the advice that they would give to anyone wanting to follow in their shoes.
About the authors and their books
‘Where Is Your Sister?’ by Puck Koper
‘Where Is Your Sister?’ by Dutch illustrator Puck Koper is a revamp of the classic children’s search and find adventure – a set of ‘Where’s Wally’ training shoes for the next generation of puzzle heads.
Picking through the colourful madness on each page, readers set out to find Harriet, a young runaway, lost, or hiding, in a manic department store. The madness intensifies on each page, as more and more people join in the hunt, before Harriet is finally reunited with her family.
The book’s author, Koper, an illustrator from Rotterdam in the Netherlands, previously illustrated several children’s books, before writing and illustrating ‘Where Is Your Sister’ as part of an MA in Children’s Book Illustration from Cambridge School of Art.
The book is a crafty riot of patterned dots, stripes, squiggles and checks, and was printed using Pantone ink to ensure that none of the colourful madness in Koper’s original illustrations is ever lost during production.
“I loved making the busy scenes,” says Koper, while chatting about the method behind her illustrations. “For example, I have a toy department in [the book], and I really loved to think about what should be there, and who should be there.”
“I have all the characters listed in the endpapers of the book, at the front and the back, so you can look out for them, and check out their little stories and follow them,” she says. “There is actually a thief in the book that you can follow – and as a little clue, he isn’t on the last page, he doesn’t make it to the end.”
The illustrations in Koper’s book are certainly unique, but the author hopes that some Dutch readers might be able to notice one particular illustrator from whom she takes some inspiration – “Her name is Fiep Westendorp, she’s a hero,” she says, laughing.
“Really, I think you get inspired by everything, by movies, by things you see in the street – by people you see in the street,” she says. “My book is filled with people I saw somewhere, matched up with things I saw and people I know – I get inspiration from everywhere.”
‘Where Is Your Sister?’ is published by Pan Macmillan, and available to buy online from Amazon and Waterstones.
‘The Salmon Of Knowledge’ by Celina Buckley
‘The Salmon Of Knowledge’ is a beautifully and creatively illustrated children’s picture book which retells an Irish legend about an enchanted salmon with the power to impart all the knowledge in the world to the first person who eats it.
A much-beloved tale among children all over Ireland, the original fable was a childhood favourite of illustrator and author Celina Buckley, from Rylane in County Cork. A primary school teacher by trade, Buckley says that she has always loved art and illustration, but was never sure how to truly develop her passion.
“When I was training to be a teacher, I remember looking through some picture books for teaching practice and I just thought, this is something that I could do, and I would absolutely love it,” she says. “I did the week-long summer class at Cambridge School of Art, and I loved it, and then I applied to do the children’s publishing MA and I was accepted.”
Buckley completed her masters in illustration while on sabbatical from her teaching job – she developed ‘The Salmon Of Knowledge’ as part of her final project.
“Irish legends are often word heavy, they are mainly text with just a few illustrations, so I wanted to make it into a picture book that younger children could read from start to finish,” she says, when asked about her inspiration for the book.
“This one had a big impact on me when I first heard it. So I decided to start with that story. I would like to do a series of Irish legends – and then write and illustrate my own as well. I want to keep going… and improving,” she says.
A traditional legend that children are sure to love, it is the illustrations in ‘The Salmon Of Knowledge’ that really make the book stand out. Buckley used observational drawing to develop her artwork, using collage to build up individual scenes and experiment with colour and texture.
“The forest in the beginning of the book is the forest by my house, and it’s really nice… to draw it from observation, and then to collage it, and then see it in the book – all those places mean something more to me,” she says.
It’s not just the artwork that benefitted from Buckley’s love of collage, as she also created her own font to compliment the book’s interior. Each letter in the alphabet was intricately cut out, before being and scanned in and edited to create a font that is truly unique to her style.
‘The Salmon Of Knowledge’ is published by Starfish Bay Children’s Books, and available to buy online from Amazon and Waterstones.
‘What Clara Saw’ by Jessica Meserve
Taking inspiration from a true story about a unusual relationship between a tortoise and a baby hippo, ‘What Clara Saw’ is a clever and charming tale about one girl’s enlightening trip to a wildlife park, and the lessons she learned from the animals.
Having previously published several children’s books, and illustrated several more, Jessica Meserve embarked on an MA in Children’s Book illustration from Cambridge School of Art in a bid to further develop her artistic personality. ‘What Clara Saw’ was developed as part of Meserve’s final project for the MA.
“I was really inspired by a book [about] unlikely friendships between animals” says Meserve, smiling. “There was this lovely story about… this little baby hippo [that] was taken to an animal reserve [and] became enamoured with a 150-year-old giant tortoise.”
“Scientist always try to say that it is because the tortoise was about the size of a female hippo, or there is some other reason, and I think there are just some relationships that you just can’t explain,” she says. “This is one thing that I wanted to get across in the book.”
“The other thing that I wanted to get across is a celebration of children being able to see these things which adults sometimes over analyse, or try to explain, and children can sometimes see them more clearly.”
One of Meserve’s main passions, she says, is drawing children, and developing her characters based on the ‘quirky’ behaviour of those around her – particularly her own daughters, whose individuality and unique world view are a source of constant inspiration.
“I have two lovely girls of my own, and one thing they struggle with is having differing opinions from teachers, and I really wanted to celebrate children being able to question authoritative figures,” she says.
The ‘authoritative figure’, or ‘bad guy’ in ‘What Clara Saw’ is a primary school teacher – aptly named Mr Biggity. “He’s not really a bad guy,” laughs Meserve, “but he is a little bit narrow minded!”
“I want children to feel like they are allowed to question grownups, and they can make their own judgements about the world. Children’s opinions really matter, and sometimes they can see things much more clearly because their judgment isn’t clouded by what they think they can see.”
‘What Clara Saw’ is published by Pan Macmillan and available to buy from online from Amazon and Waterstones.
A very short introduction to a very big subject, Big Data: A Very Short Introduction by Dawn E. Holmes is arguably the most topical of this book series. Big data is everywhere, and not just in the sense that it is constantly being gathered and amalgamated to carry out all manner of market-based and statistical analysis – it is also an immensely overused buzzword, present everywhere from the daily news to popular culture, and all points between. This very short introduction is perfect for anyone who is a little bit baffled by the very concept of big data. Holmes introduces the subject in a format that is both concise and manageable, drawing on the fields of statistics, probability and computer science to illustrate the power of big data in everyday life, the associated security risks of such information falling into the wrong hands, and the issues surrounding the use of big data by companies and businesses today.
In this Very Short Introduction Andrew Davies delves into the world of projects. It may sound like a dry subject, but the history of projects is nothing short of fascinating – and a very long history it is too. By definition, a project is any sort of collaborative mission planned to achieve a particular aim, a temporary measure with a limited lifespan. Throughout history mankind has used projects to reform and transform the natural world, creating innovative spaces for people to work, live and play. Throughout the course of this very short introduction Davies references some of the greatest projects of all time, including examples such as the Erie Canal and the Apollo Moon landing, to highlight how different projects are managed and organised to cope with the changing conditions and immense uncertainties unveiled within any form of breakthrough innovation. Moving forward, Davies presents his own ideas for how future projects can be organised to best address the challenges of modern post-industrial societies. If you are considering a career in project management or are already involved in one or more projects and want to know how to improve the system then let this book become your bible. Projects: A Very Short Introduction by Andrew Davies offers a veritable goldmine of insights, anecdotes and analysis of the very basics of project management, showing how it is done, and advising on how it can be done better.
An attempt to analyse and condense something which encompasses everything that is yet to come feels like an exercise in failure, and yet I hold in my hands a book which does just this. A wonderfully concise and brilliantly written book, The Future: A Very Short introduction by Jennifer M. Gidley takes a look at the future by travelling into the past – a literal oxymoron if ever there was one. To understand the future, says Gidley, we must look backwards, beginning with the emergence of theories of linear time in Ancient Greece. Within the book Gidley introduces the reader to the future as a concept, exploring prophecies and predictions from throughout history, discussing the potential for machine- vs human-centred futures and highlighting the reality that is ‘multiple futures’. The future is inevitable, but our treatment of it doesn’t have to be; by exploring ‘the past of the future’ and its links with ‘present-day futures’, says Gidley, we are better prepared to create wiser futures for tomorrow.
“If you could have been around on a single say in the historical past – which day would it have been?” This question, posed by a BBC reporter, and answered in truth by author Christopher Frayling, is the perfect frame within which to set this book. Given a choice, it is incredibly difficult to select a single moment in time. Scientists, artists, philosophers and critics will each have very different choices. History has so many possibilities, but for Frayling, the choice was simple.
The obvious answer, says Frayling, is not a day, but a night. A night filled with boredom and anguish, which ultimately lead to the creation of one of the greatest ghost stories ever told. It was a dreary evening in June 1816 when a young Mary Shelley (then Godwin) first sought to horrify her companions with a tale of science and technology gone insane, a tale that would go on to become one of the best known tales of horror ever written.
Just 18 months later on New Year’s Day 1818, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, complete with a preface by her husband Percy Shelley, was released into the world. The coming days, months, years, and now, centuries, would see this limited-edition fiction become one of the defining pillars of British culture. Frankenstein: The First 200 Years, a new and stunning hardbound production from Reel Art Press, celebrates the 200th birthday of literature’s greatest monster, by tracing its journey from fireside fiend to cultural celebrity.
The last two hundred years have seen Frankenstein’s creation break away from the paper-bound confines of the novel to stalk the stage and screens small and large, creeping into cartoons, comics and even cereal packets. The creature first snuck onto the big screen back in 1910, in a 16-and-a-half-minute ditty for the Thomas Edison Film Company, as a hideous beast with a misshapen body, twisted face and wild matted hair. Since this time, the costume changes have been many and various, occasionally adopting a somewhat ‘cuddly’ caricature afforded by the face of Herman Munster and modern-day Frankenweenie.
Within the pages of this stunning edition, the reader is taken on a journey through literary history, which includes new research on the novel’s origins, reprints of the earliest known manuscript of the creation scene, and a 90-page visual celebration of Frankenstein’s presence within popular culture.
Outside of obvious realms of literature and popular culture, Frankenstein’s exploits continue to roam – in a much less flattering light. If Mary Shelley’s novel held a message, it was surely a warning that manipulating that which you do not understand can only lead to devastation. Today, among newspaper pages constantly splashed with stories of the latest and greatest exploits in genetic engineering, nano-technology and artificial intelligence, Frankenstein’s monster often bares his ugly head.
The yellow-eyed, sallow-skinned being from Shelley’s novel, is indeed a far-cry away from any of the images we all recognise today – the bolt-necked beast made famous by Boris Karloff in James Whale’s 1931 onscreen adaptation being the most obvious. It is somewhat telling, perhaps, that the creature itself cannot be controlled. Just as Victor Frankenstein failed to coerce his creation, Mary Shelley’s tale has proved itself to have a life of its own.
If given the chance to travel back in time, there’s no telling where you might go, but for those intrigued by what occurred on that fabled night back in 1816, the very least you should do is read this book. Frayling has created as close to a time machine as you might hope to get, revealing, not just the humble origins of history’s greatest monster, but a thoroughly fascinating breakdown of all his exploits since.
It’s that time of year again, and this one is a special one, because one of the world’s best-loved children’s Christmas stories is turning 60, and it’s had a special makeover to celebrate.
This beautiful new edition of Dr Seuss’s Christmas masterpiece ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ is the perfect addition to any Christmas list. The illustrations and charming storyline remain the same, but are joined by a welcoming introduction by Charles D Cohen which explores the origins of the story, and the true meaning of Christmas – this is all contained within a beautiful clothbound cover and presentation box.
I absolutely love the Grinch, I include the 1960s animated short and even the Jim Carey feature in this, but of course nothing is a patch on the original. It is one of Dr Seuss’s best known stories, and with good reason. It took just a month to write, and two months to illustrate, but no other book so perfectly explores and presents the true meaning of Christmas.
You all know the story, and I’m sure I don’t need to bore you all with an explanation of the excellent storyline, writing style, or even illustrations – that said, Dr Seuss’s illustrations never cease to amaze me, in with this book in particular I love the use of red and black, making the pages seem at one dark and festive.
The story itself remains the same, a true Christmas classic, but the really nice thing about this new edition is the introduction.
It is said, and I cannot help but agree, that most people think of Dr Seuss as the Cat in the Hat – but remember that even the happiest people have their bad days. Dr Seuss, whose real name, for those of you who didn’t know, was Theodor Geisel, actually based the grisly, green-eyed character that stalks the page of this Christmas caper on none other than himself.
As his stepdaughter Lark Dimond-Cates once said: “I always thought that the Cat… was Ted on his good days, and the Grinch was Ted on his bad days.”
Seuss created the Grinch as a character at the tender aged of 53, on the day after Christmas day 1956, as an expression of his own concerns about the festive season. It’s an alarming thought, that someone who wrote such wonderful, magical children’s book could struggle with the spirit of Christmas, but Seuss did, and he used the Grinch to help work out exactly how he felt about the holiday.
So the intro says, Seuss was looking into the mirror, brushing his teeth on that Boxing Day morning, when he saw the Grinch peeking back at him.
“Something had gone wrong with Christmas, I realised, or more likely with me. So I wrote the story about my sour friend, the Grinch, to see if I could rediscover something about Christmas that obviously I’d lost.”
This is, in fact, alluded to a little in the text “For fifty-three years I’ve put up with it now! I must stop this Christmas from coming! … But HOW?”
The introduction goes on to explain a little more about the books notoriety. It was first published back in 1957, an interesting year for Christmas which saw the launch of three separate which encouraged readers to rethink the true meaning of Christmas. These included: The Year without Santa Claus, The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It became a year when people were forced to think about what Christmas really meant to them – and people loved it! All the books received prominent praise, and went on to become films in their own right, but none was quite as special as the Grinch, who became a Christmas staple, paling only in comparison to Santa Claus, and Rudolph.
However, unpleasant the Grinch character may seem at first, the book reminds us of an important fact – Christmas is about more than just presents. There is a deeper meaning to the book, though, expressed through the image of the Grinch, and the Whos coming together, that no one should be alone on Christmas, and that anyone can be part of a community.
The poor Grinch has never had a friend, or a family, and certainly never been part of a community, and cannot understand the Whos. In particular, he hates the Who-Christmas-Sing, a time when the Whos “would stand close together, with Christmas bells ringing. They’d stand hand-in-hand. And the Whos would start singing.”
Through the magic of Christmas, and seeing the Whos resilience even in the absence of presents, the Grinch learns to enjoy the true meaning of Christmas and to spend time and share a meal with the Whos, and as such to become a part of their community.
It is not a religious story, Seuss made sure of this. Like many of his books, Seuss wanted to ensure that the Grinch would teach children that people who look different, and come from different places can still come together as friends. A message we could all do with remembering at such troubling times.
As the intro concludes, most readers can notice a little something of the Grinch in themselves, I know I definitely can. I love Christmas, but I have had my troubles with it in the past, fed up with the endless money, presents and complete and utter faff that comes with it. At some point, though, I realised how I was only depriving myself by feeling this way, and by doing away with my own faff, I learned to enjoy Christmas for what it is, a time to be thankful, to spend time with friends and family and celebrate life, a time for quiet, reflection – and now I love it again.
The Grinch is an important holiday figure, and the Grinch, as a story, is one I can never get through the Christmas season without reading. I didn’t realise, until I saw this new edition, that the Grinch was approaching its 60th year in publication. I had already decided to start a little ‘tradition’ with my youngest nephew, of buying him a Dr Seuss book for his birthday and Christmas each year, this year’s Christmas present was to be the Grinch, and I am delighted that there is a special, beautiful new edition that I can share with him.
The last two weeks have been crazy – many a lost purse, blocked drain and sick cat to keep me busy, so I do hope you’ll forgive my radio silence.
Couple of pieces of good news for you:
Firstly, I have recently received a beautiful copy a super-exciting new children’s book, The Grotlyn, by Benji Davis, the much-loved author of The Storm Whale – I’ve read it, and it’s fantastic, so keep your eyes peeled for a review in the next couple of days, and maybe consider buying a copy in the meantime.
Secondly, but most importantly, it’s Roald Dahl Day!
I hope you have all managed to take a little time out to appreciate, or celebrate in some way, this wonderful children’s author. As for myself, I plan to watch the film adaptation of The Witches the second I get home tonight – the book has always held a special place in my heart – partly, but not just, due to the present of mice.
I love mice, after all, mice, I am fairly certain, all like each other. People don’t.
In the meantime, to keep myself ticking over, and for the personal enjoyment for each and every one of you reading this, here is a little excerpt from the book. It’s quite possibly the loveliest thing you will read all day, and sure to breed all the good thoughts – remember, if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely 🙂
“How long does a mouse live?”
“Ah,” she said. “I’ve been waiting for you to ask me that.”
There was a silence. She sat there smoking away and gazing at the fire.
“Well,” I said. “How long do we live, us mice?”
“I have been reading about mice,” she said. “I have been trying to find out everything I can about them.”
“Go on then, Grandmamma. Why don’t you tell me?”
“If you really want to know,” she said, “I’m afraid a mouse doesn’t live for a very long time.”
“How long?” I asked.
“Well, an ordinary mouse only lives for about three years,” she said. “But you are not an ordinary mouse. You are a mouse-person, and that is a very different matter.”
“How different?” I asked. “How long does a mouse-person live, Grandmamma?”
“Longer,” she said. “Much longer.”
“A mouse-person will almost certainly live for three times as long as an ordinary mouse,” my grandmother said. “About nine years.”
“Good!” I cried. “That’s great! It’s the best news I’ve ever had!”
“Why do you say that?” she asked, surprised.
“Because I would never want to live longer than you,” I said. “I couldn’t stand being looked after by anybody else.”
There was a short silence. She had a way of fondling me behind the ears with the tip of one finger. It felt lovely.
“How old are you, Grandmamma?” I asked.
“I’m eighty-six,” she said.
“Will you live another eight or nine years?”
“I might,” she said. “With a bit of luck.”
“You’ve got to,” I said. “Because by then I’ll be a very old mouse and you’ll be a very old grandmother and soon after that we’ll both die together.”
I’m sure it has something to do with how tiny they are – almost the perfect size for living in a doll’s house, and so somehow just right for ascribing human qualities to.
Obviously, ‘The Tale of Two Bad Mice’ was an absolute favourite of mine as a child, but even as an adult I still find myself drawn to any children’s book with a mouse on the front cover – ‘The Mouse and His Child’ and ‘Redwall’, though aimed at a slightly older audience, are two of my favourite finds in recent years.
‘The Wishing Star’ is the latest addition to my children’s book shelf, and one I look forward to sharing with the little people in my life.
Little Brown Mouse and Little Grey Mouse are the best of friends, and spend all their days together, doing the things that best friends do. They climb trees, and pick berries and have such a jolly time, each content in the others company.
‘I’m so lucky to have you as a friend,” said Little Grey Mouse.
One night, the two friends see a beautiful wishing star fall from the night’s sky and disappear into the nearby lake, and set off in their boat to find it. The night is full possibilities, with so many lovely things awaiting them, like untold adventures, and an unlimited mouse-sized pantry – but there is only one star, and both little mice want to make a wish.
How will they decide who gets to choose the wish? And what happens if someone gets to the star before them?
‘The Wishing Star’ is a book about friendship, which carries with it important message of not letting little things get in the way of what really matters. Unlimited pantries and adventures forgotten, the two little mice realise that what really matters is that they have each other, and other friends they meet along the way, which is more than anyone could ever wish for.
This book would serve as a good bedtime read to share with younger children, with a good amount of dialogue allowing for adults to express their own creative flair by choosing voices for the various characters. It would also work well as an introduction to reading for those children who are setting off for school this autumn – the charming illustrations, and a simple, thoughtful storyline providing a perfect stepping stone to discover the joys of reading by yourself.