The Bookstore Mouse by Peggy Christian, illustrated by Gary Lippincott 134pp RL4

The Bookstore Mouse is an entertaining story, sort of a cross between Inkheart, by Conrelia Funke and the Redwall Series by Brain Jacques. Cervantes the mouse lives behind a wall of words, encyclopedias to be exact, in an antiquarian bookstore along with Milo (a nod to The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster?) the cat. When Milo isn't sleeping, he's tormenting Cervantes. Not knowing how to read, he has nothing else to do. When Cervantes isn't fleeing from Milo, he is eating his way through a book of recipes from around the world and reading. One day, Milo succeeds in disrupting Cervantes' world and sends him scampering to a new section of the bookstore where he finds a very special book that he literally falls into.

Once in the story, Cervantes realizes that he is in the middle ages and has fallen into a scriptorium where scribes do their copy work. Cervantes befriends Sigfried, a young man who definitely does not have a way with words, and helps him to decode a mysterious note. The note leads them to borrow a suit of armor and a horse so they help the villagers rescue a group of troubadours from Censor the dragon. Censor is determined to capture all the troubadours, steal their stories of dragon slayers from them and retell all the stories so that the dragon is always victorious.

The wordplay throughout the book is very clever and there is very high vocabulary sprinkled throughout in a playful. You do not always need to know the meanings of the big words to understand the story. The story ends nicely with a truce between Cervantes and Milo that involves the retelling and sharing of stories. Definitely a book for a book lover.

If your child enjoys this book, I suggest The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster, illustrated by Jules Feiffer and Barrel of Laughs: A Vale of Tears, written and illustrated by Jules Feiffer. Both involve some wickedly funny wordplay as well as wonderful, fairy tale like storytelling. Also, if your daughter enjoyed this book, I suggest The Great Good Thing by Roderick Townley, which also involves a story within a story. And, for a fun short read and a gentle introduction to the poetry of Emily Dickinson, I recommend The Mouse of Amherst.

And, similar to Brian Jacques' Redwall books (ie: filled with various rodents in a quasi-medieval setting) is the Mistmantle series by MI McAllister, the first book of which is Urchin of the Riding Stars.

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