Town Mouse, Country Mouse

Town Mouse, Country Mouse
Richard Jones and Libby Walden
Caterpillar Books
There are numerous versions of the Aesop classic tale to be had; I have a fair few myself, but this has now become my favourite. Libby Walden renders the story in a measured, beautifully readaloudable rhyming text telling of the house swap between the mouse cousins: the ideal solution to Town Mouse’s hectic bustling life fatigue and Country Mouse’s yen to become ‘a mouse about the town!
Invitations are sent, received – love the postie frog –

and responded to, bags packed (don’t you love Town Mouse’s roller-wheels and little black bag); with high expectations the two sally forth …

and the swap begins.
Less than twenty-four hours later though, all is not well: Town Mouse is disturbed by the dawn chorus, and the never-ending ‘beeps and creaks and clinks’ result in a sleepless night for Country Mouse. Food is problematic too: Town Mouse almost breakfasts on poisonous berries;

and the tasty chunk of cheese Country Mouse has set his sights on for his morning meal, is in a trap.

Their walks are equally stressful: Town Mouse is totally unenthusiastic about country rambles in the rain: Country Mouse finds the whizzing wheels and lurking cats downright alarming. It’s time to return: farewells are said and with heads whirling with unforgettable memories, the cousins head for home. Assuredly it’s a case of ‘thank you’ but ‘no thank-you’ to one another’s ways of life.
This particularly resonated with me and my present struggles with having moved out of London to the country a few years ago, and now feeling the call of London life pulling strongly at my heartstrings. Richard Jones’ truly beautiful artwork makes both town and country look wonderful places to live. I love the cleverly conceived, strategically placed die cuts and the cutaway page, making the reading experience all the more pleasurable. A totally gorgeous fable reimagining to share and discuss, over and over.

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