In this modern twist from Maggie Rudy on the classic tale of the city mouse and the country mouse, Will and Tansy meet and become friends. But Will loves the bustling city and Tansy loves the quiet country. Will these two friends find a way to live mousily ever after?
Maggie Rudy has been making mice and their worlds for 25 years. Her father was a biologist and her mother and grandmother were artists, so her childhood was full of nature outings and making things. She spent part of her childhood living in England, where she encountered her first felt mice in a Lancaster toyshop, and visited Beatrix Potter’s farm in a formative third-grade field trip.
Her work stars mice and other small woodland creatures, and is firmly grounded in the natural world. She says, “I believe that young children have an innate affinity with nature and it’s my desire to kindle and sustain that connection through humor, appealing characters and detailed,gorgeous pictures”.
After the publication of each book, the completed scenes travel with Maggie to be displayed in bookstore windows, where they are a major attraction with children and their parents.
Maggie works in her home studio in the woods in Portland, Oregon, where her creatures and sets will soon overtake her house.
I hope the story shows how Tansy and Will learn that sometimes friends need to compromise. I hope children laugh at the silly stuff, and as with all my books, I hope they spend hours poring over the details, looking for hidden surprises, and wondering at the beauty and richness of the natural world.
For Richard, Toby, and Sam. What would I do without you?
Rudy’s intricately constructed miniature tableaux of found materials and felted characters, photographed by her, offer much to pore over, and the double-page spreads depicting pastoral scenes, city streets, and their newfound in-between town are beautifully realized. . .There’s always room for another take on a classic, especially when done so well.
VERDICT Even if this tale is already represented in collections, this cleverly illustrated addition is well deserving of a place. Great for independent reading and small group sharing.
Maggie Rudy’s reimagining of an Aesop tale, “City Mouse, Country Mouse” has more ambition as a story and a wider scope of illustration. . . There’s push and pull between city and country as each mouse tries in vain to adjust to an unfamiliar setting, before Tansy and William depart from Aesop and meet in the middle.
Notice also the exquisite expressions on the faces of the mice in each scene. Rudy has captured looks of wonder, eagerness, mournful sadness, and intense conversation. These mice are creatures we can care about because we recognizable their feelings.
Celebrating the merits of compromise—and allowing for a “happily ever after” ending—this less preachy version of Aesop’s tale is more appealing to most modern readers than the ones advocating avoiding risk and lowering one’s expectations.