- Author/illustrator: Mini Grey
- Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Pub date: 2013 (first U.S. edition 2014)
- Intended for: Ages 5 to 8
- Perfect for: Anyone who loves lots of details to pore over. Anyone who likes a good underdog story.
I’ve probably said this a few times already, but what I love so much about the current picture book market is the extremely wide variety of stories and art styles being published. I am interested in so many different kinds of books and that is due to the fact that authors, illustrators, and publishers are putting out such fresh, new work.
While I loved Sleepover with Beatrice & Bear for its spare, light artwork, I’m loving Hermelin the Detective Mouse for the complete opposite reason—because its pages are full and busy and chock full of action and details.
The story wastes no time—it starts right on the title page, as Hermelin, our mouse protagonist, is dropped out of a truck and into a bustling neighborhood. There’s not even a copyright page, as that info works as a posting on the “Notices” board on the back cover.
Readers get a peak into each apartment, seeing all the good and bad that is going on.
Hermelin is a special mouse in that once he found an attic to stow away in, he saw an old typewriter and he knew he could “write” with it because his paws started tingling once he was near it.
As an inquisitive mouse, he can’t help but take an interest in all of his neighbors, especially since they all need some assistance, as evidenced by the Lost, Vanished, and Missing notices posted on the community bulletin board.
He solves all of the mysteries and notifies his neighbors of where their lost items are with typewritten notes. None of them knows who Hermelin is, but they want to thank him because he’s the hero of the street.
The neighbors put together a party for the hero, but once he arrives, they only see him for his outward appearance—just a mouse—and not for the hero detective he is.
Hurt and scared, Hermelin wants to leave, but a kind young girl who also has a penchant for solving mysteries reaches out to him and welcomes him into her life and together they can solve any mystery.
Hermelin is a wonderful protagonist because he’s aware, as a mouse, that he’s special. He can type! He can solve mysteries! And the fact that one of the people in the neighborhood comes to his rescue and reaffirms his status as someone who is pretty distinctive is such a good way to end the story. I like that the girl doesn’t rescue him because she pities him, but rather because she wants to work with him and solve mysteries.
The amount of detail in the artwork begs kids to spend a good deal of time with this book. They’ll love rereading it and going along with Hermelin on his adventures. Highly recommended.