Word of Mouse by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson Books
Number of Pages: 254
Published: December 12th, 2016
Why I wanted to read this: Chris Grabenstein wrote the Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library and together with James Patterson writes the series I Funny, House of Robots and Treasure Hunters. I was curious about Patterson's new book imprint, Jimmy Patterson Books. According to his website, he is investing all his proceeds from the sales of his Jimmy books back into reading initiatives.
Opening line: "My story starts on the day I lost my entire family."
While escaping the "horrible place" (research laboratory), Isaiah somehow manages to get separated from his ninety-six siblings. They all get recaptured by the "long coats," but Isaiah is able to make it to the "outside." A strange and dangerous place for a small mouse, especially when there are rats and an evil cat lurking around. If Isaiah is to survive, he will need to find some food and shelter. After some quick maneuvering to get past Lucifer, the neighborhood cat, Isaiah manages to find Mikayla (a mouse with a beautiful singing voice). Mikayla takes him to her family and soon Isaiah is learning how to scavenge for food and making plans to rescue his own family from the "horrible place." At first, Isaiah is very scared being in the "outside," he's even terrified just by the word "cat" being spoken aloud. His transition to leading a charge against the laboratory happens as he gains confidence in himself. He uses his voice to stand up to Lucifer and begins to see that words hold weight. Isaiah also gets help from Mikayla and her family, as well as Hailey, a girl that he meets in the house next door. The two are able to communicate because Isaiah can read and write, so he uses a keyboard to type messages to her. I think you can probably figure out that the story ends on a happy note.
Although not expressly mentioned, the mice from the laboratory seemed to have undergone some kind of experiments. Isaiah's fur is blue, while his siblings are different colors. The whole story kinda reminded me of a gentler version of The Secret of NIMH. Isaiah is also pretty intelligent, which comes from him reading books, and he has quite the vocabulary. He uses words like "dulcet," "ominous," and "crepuscular." Each chapter begins with a quote followed by five to six pages per chapter. Patterson also includes little tidbits of information about mice, like who knew a mischief is the name for a group of mice? Plus the illustrations by Joe Sutphin are gorgeous. I think Word of Mouse would make a great book to read aloud to a seven to ten-year-old so some of these more difficult words could be explained. There was one thing that did come off as a bit odd, like why make the statement that girl mice aren't allowed to sing and then never really counter those words? Mikayla does lead a sort of charge by singing, but her siblings also seemed to put her down too much for my taste. They even call her "artsy-fartsy" at one point. I would've been perfectly fine if Word of Mouse was a stand alone, but it also might be interesting to see what Isaiah does now that he finds out there is a Lab still out there committing worse acts and this time it's the cats that are in danger.