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The Mouse and His Child

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  1,676 Ratings  ·  174 Reviews
From the safety of the toyshop to slavery in the dump and escape through wood and meadow; through war between armies of shrews, through a first-night disaster with Crow's travelling players, through Muskrat's horrendous exercise in pure science and an encounter with a deep-thinking snapping turtle and the Last Visible Dog at the bottom of a pond; all the way to the final b ...more
Paperback, 185 pages
Published March 25th 1976 by Puffin (first published 1967)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Feb 10, 2008 Abby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Abby by: James Crossley
Shelves: children-s, 1001-kids
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
Mar 03, 2012 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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:
Apr 15, 2015 Sarah rated it it was ok
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
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
Jan 04, 2015 Leonie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s
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
Jun 03, 2012 Rozzer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: america, reviewed, own, fiction
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
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
Oscar Despard
The Mouse and His Child, by Russell Hoban, is a pleasant yet touching story about a clockwork mouse and his child's search for a territory to call their own. It progresses at a pleasant pace, apart from a somewhat slow and uninteresting part in the middle of the book, it is intriguing throughout. I enjoyed the end a huge amount, and I would recommend it to a friend.
May 30, 2017 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book for adults. It is full of adult humor and themes--satire, parody, existentialism, nostalgia... I read it as a fourth grader but I don't think I understood it then, though I hope I enjoyed the adventure story. As an adult I loved it and cried at the end. The last few chapters are very satisfying and tender and smooth it out after all the scary and distressing events earlier in the book. It is a very unique work but if you like rereading classics such as Charlotte's Web as an adult, ...more
Aug 16, 2014 Rhymershouse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 15, 2011 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 26, 2012 Melody rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: heard
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
Oct 05, 2007 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mark Gilbert
Jan 15, 2016 Mark Gilbert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book out loud to my son. He disliked the arbitrary deaths of animals that occur at various times, but he liked the ending. There are various parts that are a bit sophisticated for a middle-schooler, like the artsy theater company formed by crows, called the Caws of Art, and their avant-garde production, The Last Visible Dog.
I enjoyed the story, and I especially appreciated that the language was rich and varied. The book made quite a contrast with the middle-school books he usually re
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.
Lynnea Taylor
Sep 19, 2012 Lynnea Taylor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children, fiction
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.
Terry Mark
May 22, 2017 Terry Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would describe this novel personally as a children's adventure story written for adults. The story line follows the journey of a wind up mouse and his child through trials and tribulations in order to find their other wind up toy friends that they lived together with in a toy shop up until the day they were sold. The moral of this tale is whatever life and the world throws at you,never give up to find your final goal.
Jul 07, 2017 Anna rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really had to give up on this one. I understand the ending is a happy one so tried to persevere. As I read for pleasure this was far from pleasant. I certainly can't see this as a 'children's' book. I guess I am definitely more of a 'Velveteen Rabbit' person than I am a 'Mouse and his Child' person.
Jun 18, 2017 Julie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
read this with at least one of my kids and we loved it...sweet
May 28, 2017 Brenna rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
When they say the illustrations stay with you, is it because they look like they came straight out of a nightmare?
Tory C.
Jan 26, 2012 Tory C. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, childrens
I discovered this book when I was under a tremendous amount of stress and flirting with the borders of depression. I was aware of my iffy state of mind and was careful in my choice of books. I didn’t need anything like 1984 or Graveyard of the Fireflies which would surely send me into the abyss with a one-way ticket. I started The Mouse and His Child with caution, ready at any moment to shut the book and send it back unfinished should the story take a downward turn—and it seemed at any moment it ...more

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
Tim Davis
Jul 15, 2011 Tim Davis rated it it was amazing  ·  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
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
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
Feb 17, 2017 Grace rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very good book. Has a Lot of drama, so not good for young children under 6.
An Odd1
May 10, 2014 An Odd1 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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Young Adult Ficti...: Recommending a Child/YA book by Russell Hoban 1 29 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)
  • The Big Orange Splot
  • How the Whale Became and Other Stories
  • Danny Dunn and the Homework Machine (Danny Dunn, #3)
  • The Adventures of Harold and the Purple Crayon
  • Toys Go Out
  • The Silver Crown
  • A Whole Nother Story
  • The Haunting
  • Warrior Scarlet
  • Secret Identity (Shredderman, #1)
  • Ordinary Jack (The Bagthorpe Saga, #1)
  • Fire, Bed, and Bone
  • Uncle
  • The House of Dies Drear (Dies Drear Chronicles, #1)
  • The 18th Emergency
Russell Conwell Hoban was an American expatriate writer. His works span many genres, including fantasy, science fiction, mainstream fiction, magical realism, poetry, and children's books. He lived in London, England, from 1969 until his death. (Wikipedia)
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“Have you paused to consider that there is no way out? Each way out of one situation necessarily being the way into another situation.” 7 likes
“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'.” 5 likes
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