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'What are we, Papa?' the toy mouse child asked his father. 'I don't know,' that father answered. 'We must wait and see.'
So begins the story of a tin father and son who dance under a Christmas tree until they break the ancient clockwork rules and are themselves broken. Thrown away, then rescued from a dustbin and repaired by a tramp, they set out on a dangerous quest for a family and a place of their own - the magnificent doll's house, the plush elephant and the tin seal they had once known in the toy shop.
"Be naked" our departing predecessor pinned to the bulletin board, and we have never felt so vuluerable as in anticipating the response to Russell Hoban's arresting departure from juvenile precedent. "I want to find the elephant... to be my mama," says the mouse child, remembering the toy shop, to the other windups. "and I want the seal to be my sister, and I want us all to live in the beautiful house." Mouse & Child's frustrating, harrowing, sometimes funny quest is also a flight - from Manny Rat, the ultimate underworldling who is both Lucifer and Luciano. Through trashcan and dump, past murder and robbery and war, into the obscurities of the Caws of Art (two crows on a bare stage), Muskrat's Much-in-Little ("Why times How equals What"), and the contemplation of infinity (by the turtle author of "The last Visible Dog") they pace their little circles, searching for a way to become self-winding, the child to clinging his faith in a future. At last, beyond the last visible dog (on the disintegrating label of a can) the child finds the answer - "nothing but us." Irony, satire, parody - and an implicit, unrestricted compassion (except for fools). The two windups survive shattering and reassembling, finally reform Manny Rat and establish family and fellowship in their own territory. "Be happy," the tramp blesses them in what could be a blessing for the book - and we will "be asked" and say that man and child will recognize themselves in Mouse & Child. A rich disturbing, very touching book. (Kirkus Reviews)
Series: Faber Children's Clasics
Published: 3rd April 2000
Dimensions (cm): 19.7 x 12.9 x 1.3
Weight (kg): 0.145