'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Monday, 17 September 2018

The Mouse and His Child

The title of my blog, 'The Last Visible Dog' comes from an idea posed in a book by Russell Hoban entitled The Mouse and His Child.
I have written the merest summary of it in the link under my blog heading, but * here is a better one that may give you a clearer idea of how profound, unsettling and interesting it is.

My battered early copy of The Mouse and His Child with its illustrations by Lillian Hoban, would be one of the first things I would try and grab if I ever actually succeed in setting my house on fire by walking away when I had put the tea on.

Incidentally I'm very impressed that Jenny Brown and her friend Teresa at Shelf Love have posted a list of books they have read in the last twenty years. Their blog of reviews began about ten years ago, and that's a long-running blog too.

*If the first link doesn't work, here it is again: https://shelflove.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/the-mouse-and-his-child-review.

If you want another personal reaction to the book, there's one by Stuart Kelly of the Guardian, here.

If you want a review with more of the plot explained (spoilers alert), you can also find one here at Tygertale.

Just to complete this little round-up, there is now a wiki page for the book here, and the animated film version here.

Finally, if you are thinking to purchase this for a child, I would mention that both the book and the animated movie have parts that are rather scary, even 'nightmarish' for some children, although this book certainly sits somewhere in the children's book genre.  Perhaps a perfect one to read to them, and then discuss the meaning and metaphysics afterwards.


  1. I will be on the look out for this. I love children's books.

  2. If you want one of the early copies, there are plenty here Emma... https://biblio.co.nz/9780140308419

  3. It would definitely not have been my cup of tea as a child (and even less so now). One of the worst books I have read (from my point of view) was Watership Down. Given that I devoured Tolstoy, Solzhenitsyn, Gogol, Dostoevsky and many more of the darker Russian novels when I was a young man, even I cannot understand why I found Watership Down and Dickens impossible.

    1. Maybe you have a soft spot for animals Geeb? The Russians are very matter-of-fact about the horrible stuff. They don't feel sorry for themselves even when they should. I have raved to you about how much "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich' influenced me. There is a way however of presenting it that pings the heart-strings and makes it hard to go on....
      Did you ever read Roald Dahl's 'Boy'? or Bryce Courtenay's 'The Power of One'? Those are two books I found very hard to read.

    2. You have reminded me that I must go back and re-read 'One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich'. I suppose I do have a soft spot for animals. I was very indignant of the way Black Beauty was treated and that book influenced me for the rest of my life. No. I have read neither of the books you asked about.

    3. I was very upset by some parts of Black Beauty too!


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