Petersen, D. (2008). Mouse Guard: Fall 1152. New York: Villard. ISBN: 9781932386578
Annotation: The communities of mice rely on the Mouse Guard to protect their homes and ensure their survival. In the Fall of 1152, the Guard uncovers a treasonous plot to set up one mouse as dictator over all mice citizens, and only the Guard can keep this from happening.
Reaction: This book is a really quick read and a great story. The blurb on the front cover says it “reads like a mix of Lord of the Rings and Stuart Little, which is a pretty good description of it, though none of the mice get into the kind of hijinks that Stuart does, and it’s not as fantastic as LOTR. This book could be an actual historical account of these events if the characters were people instead of mice, and I really like that Petersen didn’t add a bunch of extra stuff like magic and other fantasy elements. A Goodreads review likened Mouse Guard to Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM, which is an ideal comparison, as they both have similar tones and deal with small critters struggling to survive in a harsh world.
I also really like how serious it is. Petersen might have included one or two jokes in the book, though I can’t remember them, and I think that was really well done. It would have been really easy for him to make this story silly and goofy, but he gives it gravity and weight. The mice of the Guard all take their duties seriously and are committed to protecting the mouse way of life.
I loved the way Petersen sets up his mouse society and creates such a well thought out world. His art is richly detailed, and I enjoyed how fierce and brave his characters are. He is able to convey a lot of expression through really small changes of the faces. The predators the mice face are almost photo realistic, which sets them a little apart from the mice whose anthropomorphization slides them farther away from reality.
I would recommend this book for readers who enjoy talking animal stories, such as the Redwall series by Brian Jacques and Mrs. Frisby, but it would also be good for kids who enjoy stories about war, fighting and protecting one’s home.
Media Used: Ink and digital color