Newbery 2004

Delightful writing from the pen of Kate Di Camillo tells an apparently simple fairy tale story of a small brave mouse who despite having the odds stacked against him enables light to triumph over darkness. The reader is challenged by the apparently simple questions posed by the author who writes in a simple but never condescending style. In my opinion deep respect for her readers was evident.

On the face of it this is a good over evil story, light winning over the darkness. But behind the simplicity are laid to the big questions of life. The short chapters lead from one unlikely scenario to the next but almost inevitably a puzzle or query arises from her writing. Themes of being different, standing up for what is right, forgiveness and challenging taken for granted assumptions are used to encourage thinking and reflection far from the soup, red cloth, needle and small ears that are never far from the narrative.

I would highly recommend this book, especially for reading aloud, just allow plenty of space for reflection and discussion.