Mr. Maxwell's Mouse

Reviewed: July 23, 2004
By: Frank Asch / art by Devin Asch
Publisher: Kids Can Press
32 pages, $17.95

Mr. Maxwell's Mouse is a delightfully subversive tale about a cat and a mouse, and how good manners can be one's salvation, or perhaps about how it isn't good practice to talk to your food.

Mr. Maxwell is celebrating his promotion at his favorite restaurant when he decides to have a live mouse for a change. This turns out to be a mistake. Maybe Maxwell is just a bit too mellow in the glow of his advancement, or maybe the mouse is just a bit too sly in the service of his own redemption. Whatever the case, lunch does not go all that well for Mr. Maxwell, although the mouse has a fine time.

I was terrifically amused by the way this story worked out. Oh, I could see it coming from the time the mouse turned up on his plate, reclining on a slice of bread with some parsley garnish. It was clear he was up to something when he as so solicitous about his customer, and asked to be allowed to bless the meal before Mr. Maxwell could begin.

All of this dialogue is wonderfully written by Asch senior, who has many other books to his credit, but it was son Devin's rendering of the restaurant, Maxwell's three piece suit and tie, the praying mouse and the many details on each page which really caught my eye.

This is a great little kids' book, and should be a joy to share aloud.