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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

"Mouseheart: Vol 1" by Lisa Fiedler (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

 Visit the Official Website for the Mouseheart series Here

OVERVIEW: The Warriors series meets Redwall in this first book in an epic animal adventure series set in the subway tunnels of Brooklyn.

Hopper is just an ordinary pet shop mouse before he escapes. Soon he finds himself below the bustling streets of Brooklyn, deep within the untamed tangles of transit tunnels, and in Atlantia, a glorious utopian rat civilization.

But all is not what it seems. Though Hopper is treated as a royal guest, he misses his siblings that he lost in the escape attempt. That, and Atlantia is constantly threatened by the rebels who wish to bring the city to its knees. And there are cats everywhere in Atlantia, cats that leave the citizens unharmed… and no one can seem to answer why.

Soon, Hopper is caught in the crosshairs of a colossal battle, one that crosses generations and species. As the clashes rage, Hopper learns terrible, extraordinary secrets: Deadly secrets about Atlantia. Painful secrets about his friends.

And one powerful secret about his destiny.

FORMAT: Mouseheart is the first book in a proposed series. It is a children's adventure/fantasy novel very similar to the Warrior series and Redwall series. It stands at 320 pages and was published May 20, 2014 by Margaret K. McElderry Books.

ANALYSIS: I have always had a love for the Redwall series. When I read that Mouseheart was a combination of Warriors and Redwall, I knew I had to give it a try. What I ended up reading was a book that in many ways is better than the Redwall series.

Mouseheart tells the tale of Hopper, a city mouse who finds himself – and his siblings – unexpectedly thrown into a dark, harsh underground world. The world happens to be below the streets of Brooklyn and is filled with storm drains, subway trains, and passengers, but also evil cats and a ragtag bunch of rebel mice.

Hopper gets separated from his siblings while underground and he meets Zucker – prince of the mice. And things just seem to spiral into a world of chaos filled with fighting, betrayal, and lots of mouse kingdom politics.

Mouseheart on a whole is a very solid, detailed middle grade novel. The writing and character development is strong. Things are not overly complex, but they certainly aren't 'dumbed' down. Many times children's books go with one extreme or another. They are so detailed that even adults have problems following it, or they are so simple that children get bored.

While I enjoyed the character development, I did get confused with the main character – Hopper. There seemed to be times when he didn't understand/get things because he was a pet store mouse, but then he'd come out with these detailed strategies or say something that was completely not in line with that character.

I would sometimes thing 'hey, how does this sheltered mouse – who didn't even know what a subway train was – come up with that'. Maybe I was being a little too critical of Hopper, but that was honestly the only character flaw I had with the book.

Mouseheart is filled with several battle/fight scenes, some of which are extremely detailed. This makes it difficult for me to place a target age for this book. One of the fight scenes involves a cat who pounces, misses the mouse, and gets a railing 'gouged' in the eye. The battle scene at the end is fairly detailed/graphic, too.

I really believe younger children may find it difficult or uncomfortable reading about this type of violence, especially happening to animals. The detailed and graphic descriptions of injuries and fighting just didn't mesh with the simplistic children's nature of the book.

There are obviously more books planned for this series, but one of the great things about this novel is that it doesn't end with a cliffhanger. It is obvious that there is more to come, but it doesn't end in a way that is disappointing or unfair to readers.

Mouseheart is a strong, well-written children's fantasy/adventure novel. It is sure to be a favorite of those that love the Warrior series or Redwall series. This is certainly a new spin on the Redwall series. I truly enjoyed reading this novel. It was fast paced, well written, and had many elements that adult readers will love.


nancez said...

I loved this book!!! I read it to my 5th grade students who were enthralled with it!! They can't wait for the next book in the series!

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