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Author: Freeman, Martha
Illustrator: McPhail, David
Publisher: Holiday House Books
Year Published: 2014
ISBN: 978-0-8234-3167-0
Grades: Grade 4, Grade 5, Grade 6

Orphan and the Mouse, The

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“Well, wouldn’t they all be surprised, she thought, if they knew I got up in the middle of the night and talked to mice?”
In this novel, two worlds collide between the orphans at Cherry Street and the mice living beneath their floorboards.  An unusual friendship between Caro McKay, a ten-year-old orphan and Mary mouse, a skilled thief of anything human, provides the catalyst for a story about loss of innocence, deception, mystery, death and growth.  Though Caro and Mary cannot verbally communicate, they form an understanding of each other which becomes essential when Caro realizes that a baby orphan was actually kidnapped, and their beloved director, Mrs. Green, is involved.
Set in 1949 and inspired by E.B.White’s Stuart Little, this book is definitely modeled after E.B.White’s style and time periods of his stories. The language is sophisticated, detailed and descriptive. As a result, it is better suited as a read-aloud than as an independent read for its intended audience of mid-upper elementary students. The beginning of the book uses more sophisticated vocabulary, slowing down the plot of the story.   Read-aloud books are like precious gems in today’s world. David McPhail’s genteel pencil drawings add to the feeling and artistic style of the 1940 time period.  Teachers and students of E.B.White will enjoy this story of mystery, adventure and fantasy all mixed together.

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