By: Cynthia Voigt
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Publication Date: January 2011
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: April 27, 2011
The young mouse, Fredle, lives with his extended family inside the walls belonging to Missus, Mister, the Baby, and their two dogs - Angus and Sadie. Fredle is constantly taught by his father and mother that he has to live safely; that he can’t take chances. You see, if he does, he will be ‘pushed out’ of the family’s nest. The mice call this “went.” In other words an injured mouse, a caught mouse, a mouse who went too far, or a dead mouse, is set out on the kitchen floor so that Missus or Mister can throw them outside.
Now, Fredle understands the precarious position that his family lives in, but he longs for adventure. He doesn’t feel like living a boring, hum-drum life inside walls and only able to venture out into the kitchen at night and try to forage for food.
Well…Fredle has one particular cousin who owns that adventurous spirit, and he has a tendency to follow along behind her at night. One evening, while they’re foraging, Fredle’s cousin gets her ear caught in a mousetrap. Fredle does his very best to hide the injury because he doesn’t want the family to decide to “push her out” among the humans.
One evening, they come across a peppermint pattie, and Fredle comes to the conclusion that it might just have been filled with poison. As the adventure really begins, Fredle finds himself thrown out into the wild of the backyard and goes from dealing with the danger of cats and mousetraps to a whole new world that is comprised of dreaded snakes, horrific raccoons, and other frightening things that may make it truly impossible for Fredle to rejoin his family. What he doesn’t count on is making a true friend out of a very smart dog.
This author has done a magnificent job of adding humor to a very personal, loving story that teaches every reader about the power of family, friendship, and foraging in new and exciting locations. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, considering that Cynthia Voigt is a Newberry Medalist, and most assuredly knows her business when it comes to excellent fiction for young readers.
Quill Says: Yet another homerun for this author. This is truly a gripping story that allows children to believe in themselves and find the courage to give the real world a try.