Imagine the most momentous and joyous event of your lifetime. One to which you are not invited. What wouldn't you give to be a fly on the wall or a mouse in the corner at that event?
Celebrated children's author Richard Peck affords his readers just such a mouse's-eye view of English royalty upon the Diamond Anniversary of Queen Victoria with "The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail." Peck, with his characteristic grace and humor, invites us into the world of an orphaned runt of no-litter mouse, who, for want of an official name, is called Mouse Minor.
Mouse Minor is not the typical Mews Mouse. He is too small, for one thing. And his tail is unruly. Its natural shape is that of a question mark. He's different. And that is never easy in either the human or the mouse world. What's more, Mouse Minor is full of questions. Where did he come from? Who is he? And who will he become? His past, his present and his future are full of mystery.
There are some things Mouse Minor does know, however. He knows certain great and indisputable truths for the mouse world such as: "For every job a human holds, there is a mouse with the same job, and doing it better."
And "Mice and Men alike look better in uniform than out of it."
But these are general truths applying to all of mouse-dom. What of Mouse Minor's personal quest? He suspects in his mouse heart that he may have to go to the sovereign herself to find the answers. In the end, he will have to "squeak up."
As his readers have come to expect, Peck leads us on a merry adventure, charming us with subtle turns of phrase and luring us into a greater curiosity about our world. Why, one can almost detect the susurration of gently turned pages of a history tome.
Ruth Siburt is the author of more than a dozen children's books in the educational field.