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The Mouse and His Child

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  1,225 ratings  ·  149 reviews
"What are we, Papa?" the toy mouse child asked his father.
"I don't know," the father answered. "We must wait and see."

So begins the story of a clockwork mouse and his son who dance under a Christmas tree until they are broken. Thrown away, then rescued from a dustbin and repaired by a tramp, and they set out on a dangerous quest for a family and a place of their own - the
Paperback, 165 pages
Published August 4th 2005 by Faber & Faber (first published 1967)
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Feb 14, 2008 Abby rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Abby by: James Crossley
Simply stunning -- the story of a wind-up mouse & his son and their adventures in the cold mean world beyond the nursery. This is no Velveteen Rabbit, however. After being thrown out in the trash and fixed by a transient, the clockwork toys find themselves enslaved to a greedy rat who rules the dump on the edge of town. Although they eventually manage to escape his clutches, the rat doggedly follows them as they bumble from crisis to crisis, dependent on the mercies of the strangers they mee ...more
This is another book in my desultory campaign to re-read books that I liked in childhood and see if they stand up to adult scrutiny.


See the complete review here:
A pair of toy mice go on a quest for a home, pursued by an evil rat. I read a blog post about this which made me want to read it, and I thought it might be a good introduction to Hoban's adult books. It's a melancholy book with lots of death and I know it would have been too dark for me as a child. It's beautifully written and the helplessness and persistence of the mouse and his child give it the central effect of tenderness and wistfulness. There's some nice humorous bits about absurdist crow ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Don't be misled by this book's cover, with its gentle picture of a windup toy mouse
hand in hand with his small son. The Mouse and His Child is and isn't a children's book but it is not recommended for the
soft hearted of any age.

The title characters, a mouse and his child, are toys who seem quite astonished to find themselves in the world,
moving from a toyshop to display items under a Christmas tree to, quite suddenly, the dump. Despite his father's doubts,
despite the adversity of the world
Fey. Hoban (all Hoban) has an element of fey-ness in his work. Not terribly overwhelming (at least to me), but it's part of what makes Hoban Hoban. As far as I'm concerned. It's obviously related to his children's books. So it might be said that he also wrote children's books for adults. Which some adults (including me) enjoy very much indeed. Because in addition to the fey, there's also a no-holds-barred imagination and insistent refusal to obey any of the standard rules of adult fiction. Which ...more
The title characters of the Mouse and His Child are a toy - a windup mouse father joined by the hands to his son and meant to dance in a circle. Their quest begins when the toy is broken and discarded at the dump. At first, the child's desire for a family gives their life meaning. Then the father begins to see the necessity for them to be self-winding. Their single-minded devotion to their cause earns them both loyal supporters and a sworn enemy.

The Mouse and His Child is heavily allegorical. W
As strange and disturbing as one expects from the pen of Hoban. This is closer to Riddley Walker, Expanded Edition than to Frances, for certain. It's deeply symbolic and I think that it would reward any number of readings. There's just so much going on beneath the surface, and listening to it was not the proper choice for a first go-round, as my mind sometimes wandered and I was constantly rewinding. Or whatever it's called now, backtracking? I don't know that I've got the fortitude to read it a ...more
3.5 stars --- Of all the films that had a formative effect on me growing up, and The Mouse and His Child ranks near the top. For years I couldn't remember the title, but images such as the dog food can "infinity" scene and the captive pink elephant remained lodged in my brain.

"The Mouse and His Child" is a dark story. It makes "The Secret of NIMH" look positively joyous by comparison. I finally became aware of the book the movie was based upon, and it too, is a decidedly dark piece of children's
This book is a wonderful and at times heartbreaking story. I got it because I remembered seeing an animated movie of this when I was little. This book has much, much more than the film, and is just beautifully written. I think it'd be great for all ages, even though it's usually marketed for younger ages. It's got some very weighty concepts and deep philosophical ideas, and several bits that would be entertaining to younger readers, but would make more sense to adults. (There's a very interestin ...more
I first heard about the movie adaptation of this book, and after watching it and being both completely unsettled and intrigued by the plot, I went in search of the book as I'm a firm believer that books are generally better than the movies they're based on.

Unfortunately, I'm a blind reader, and finding specific books in a workable format can be a bit hard. But finally I managed it! I sat down with the book and read it in about five hours. I just entirely could not put it down.

This is not a child
Rachael Eyre
This was written off by my entire Year 7 class as the worst book we'd ever read. All I can ask is: what the hell were our teachers thinking? Yes, the protagonists are windup mice, but this is in no way cute and cuddly, and the body count must be in the dozens by the end. Never has a children's book (though I really hesitate to call it that) portrayed the world as so relentlessly cruel and heartless - and few villains are as sleazy, clever and downright frightening as Manny Rat. You can't help wi ...more
Amy Carr
I'm throwing in the towel on this book. I've tried and tried to get motivated to finish this story but it just isn't "grabbing" me in any way. It is a "classic" book about a wind-up toy mouse and his son joined hand in hand and discarded by their owner. While the writing is very well-done, I'm just flat out bored by it. I'm sure it is very sweet...and I'm sure the creepy rat chasing them for their parts doesn't win in the end, but I'm moving on to greener pastures...
This came in a boxed set of classic children's books. It got good reviews and sounded Christmassy, so I figured it would be fun December reading. Unfortunately, it was neither Christmassy nor enjoyable. The plot was boring! I can't imagine a child sitting through this story. I know, I know, it's full of symbolic meaning. Blah. I didn't like it.
Russell Hoban is one of those authors I probably haven't given enough of a chance. I've read one book of his I really loved (Amaryllis Night and Day), one I did not get on with at all (The Medusa Frequency), and bits and pieces of a third which, while very, very interesting, would feel more like an intellectual exercise than an entertainment no matter who was writing it (Riddley Walker). Over all of them looms the shadow of The Mouse and His Child, an existentialist children's fantasy that I fir ...more
Fantasy of the EB White type but with a more malevolent road for the central characters to follow than Stuart Little had. A clockwork mouse who dances holding his little son is damaged by accident and thrown away. Retrieved from the trash by a tramp who does jury-rigged repair on them, the duo out on a dangerous journey to find someone who can repair them fully.

More for adults than young children, though I put it on the younger readers shelf. This is the Russell Hoban who wrote the books about
Lynnea Taylor
The Mouse and His Child is a marvellous story of bravery and love. The story never moves too slowly while giving plenty of beautiful descriptions. This is a treasure to share with your children.
The Mouse and His Child is a strange, lovely little book. It is rightly labeled “young adult literature” for its occasional dark themes and moments of gritty action. The story centers around two wind-up toys, a tin mouse and his son and their pursuit to become “self-winding”. Along the way they make many important discoveries about life and love and happiness. It’s a story about hope in despair and the courage to make dreams come true. In short, it is a very adult fairy tale. And I was charmed b ...more
An Odd1
In the store window, mouse child, soothed by seal, and elephant's lullaby, dreams of belonging, startled by the clock's " flat brass voice, "I might remind you of the rules of clockwork, No talking before midnight and after dawn, and no crying on the job" p 7. Bought for Xmas decorations, the windup mice perform five years, until the child's forbidden sobs provoke the cat into an accidental smash, relegating the toys to the trash. .

Evil Manny Rat rules the dump, Ralphie his first assistant, Iggy
Erin Reilly-Sanders
I had been wanting to read this one for some time after hearing David Small speak about the illustrations and fortuitously found it at a friend's yard sale and then got stuck waiting while my husband went into a bicycle shop with it in hand. Regardless of the back story of acquisition, I found the story poignant and the illustrations sweet. The most pleasant surprise, although not terribly surprising given that it's a classic, was the depth of the symbolism and meaning behind the text. It just h ...more
I really liked this! It's the story of how a toy mouse and his (attached) child make friends, discover the meaning to infinity, achieve Self-Winding, obtain their very own territory, and have a real family.

I can't explain this properly, but while the whole story was happy and adventurous in a way only children's books can be, it was also kind of poignant. One thing I think contributed to this tone is how the mouse's (and child's) fur eventually came off and their clothing was torn and tattered a
Tim Davis
Sep 12, 2011 Tim Davis rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Advanced young readers and adults
Hi Everybody, I’d like to recommend the children’s/YA book for adults and advanced younger readers. Into a fascinating story of toy and live animals, Hoban writes in an allegory of existentialism. Now, existentialism itself is debatable, but as a philosophical movement, one should be exposed to it.
The symbols that Hoban uses most significantly are that the father mouse wants to become self-winding, and that the mouse child wants to see what’s beyond “the last visible dog.” The “last visible dog
C. Hollis Crossman
I picked up this book pretty much at random. Frances the Badger was one of my constant and best friends as a child, but I knew nothing about this one and had no expectations either good or bad.

Wow. This is one of the best novels I've ever read.

I don't rate books on this site very often simply because I forget, but I felt impelled to rate The Mouse and His Child. You have to read this, I don't care who you are.

Hoban manages to reinvent the Classical epic genre: instead of a hero trying to get hom
Hazel Lee
Short version: This is a more involved and philosophical version of The Velveteen Rabbit.

Long version: I have to admit, I was initially skeptical of this book. It is an odd tale of a wind-up toy that consists of a father mouse and a child mouse (although they are one toy, they have separate consciousnesses). As is the fate of all toys, they are sold to a family, but are not played with because they are considered too valuable. Then a tragic accident flings them out into the wide world, where the

Mechanical toys can not move by themselves--much less Think, Feel or Dream, yet Hobans' father-son performing team proves much more than mere wind-up toys. Seeking definition, direction and three-dimensional existence, the mouse child asks his father what they are. The patient father replies that he does not know either, but advises his son to wait and see--hardly a satisfactory answer for an eager youth. Their world at first is limited to a toyshop, with its dollho
A wind-up mouse and his father live in a glorious dollhouse mansion with elephant and seal until they are bought as Christmas presents. Though, most certainly, loved in the beginning, they eventually are tossed aside and find themselves, tattered and forlorn, in the junkyard heap. Brutalized and bullied by Manny the Rat, they know they must find their way back to civility and family.

The Mouse and His Child uses imagery and philosophical cues to gently teach readers, both young and old, about co
Parry Rigney
There were times when I really loved this book - the incredibly poignant images that really made me stop and catch my breath. These moments, when accompanied by David Small's illustrations, were especially moving.

But, I sometimes found the language getting in the way of the story. There were more than a few passages in which the author was describing an action sequence and I got bogged down and confused and found myself skimming.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, which is a children's book and in ou
I picked this up as a book for my daughter, then decided to read it myself first. The idea of these wind-up toys coming to life and having an adventure seemed ridiculous at first. Then, you start to really believe in the characters and hope they do succeed along their journey. Some good lessons hidden along the way, but not really for young readers. The book says for all ages, but would be good for a child in the later part of elementary at the earliest.
Hoban is a children's writer who is probably most famous for his easy-to-read 'Francis' books. That, coupled with the story-line: two broken toy mice connected at the hands, moving through life broken, in an epic tale of survival, causes this book to always be classified as a young children's novel. However, the novel is not just a coming of age story. It is a tale of how life always comes full circle. It has powerful metaphors, and themes of redemption and transformation. The father mouse moves ...more
At the risk of dating myself, all I remember about this story was that a movie was made for it in the late 70s and I desperately wanted to see it. The marketing for the movie must have been excellent because the day my father took my sister me to see it, all the shows were sold out. Not one to disappoint, he took us to the other child friendly movie available at the time--Candleshoe. CANDLESHOE??? Not quite the same idea. In any case, I believe that eventually I did make it to the show but for t ...more
Mary Jo Garcia
A colleague of mine loaned me this book, and it remained on my shelves for months. I only just picked it up a week or so ago. It is a beautiful tale of two windup mice and their journey to find a family, a home, and themselves. It's one of those books that, while marketed to children, isn't really for children at all. It contains elements of parody that would be lost on children but are appreciated by adults, rather like Alice in Wonderland and Gulliver's Travels. The vocabulary level is rather ...more
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Young Adult Ficti...: Recommending a Child/YA book by Russell Hoban 1 27 Sep 12, 2011 09:55AM  
  • Arabel's Raven (Arabel and Mortimer, #1)
  • Fergus Crane (Far-Flung Adventures, #1)
  • The Mad Scientists' Club (Mad Scientists' Club, #1)
  • Toys Go Out: Being the Adventures of a Knowledgeable Stingray, a Toughy Little Buffalo, and Someone Called Plastic
  • Danny Dunn and the Homework Machine (Danny Dunn, #3)
  • The Silver Crown
  • The Big Orange Splot
  • The Adventures of Harold and the Purple Crayon
  • How the Whale Became and Other Stories
  • Secret Identity (Shredderman, #1)
  • A Whole Nother Story
  • Cartoon History of the Universe I, Vol. 1-7: From the Big Bang to Alexander the Great
  • Ordinary Jack (The Bagthorpe Saga, #1)
  • Warrior Scarlet
  • The School for Cats
  • The Haunting
  • The Wind on the Moon
  • The 18th Emergency
Bread and Jam for Frances Bedtime for Frances A Bargain for Frances Riddley Walker A Baby Sister for Frances

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“Where are we?' the mouse child asked his father. His voice was tiny in the stillness of the night. 'I don't know' the father replied. 'What are we Papa?'. 'I don't know. We must wait and see'.” 3 likes
“Have you paused to consider that there is no way out? Each way out of one situation necessarily being the way into another situation.” 3 likes
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