When I hear the name Lois Lowry, I think of futuristic, dystopian societies and one of my all time favorite books The Giver. So, when I saw the cover of her newest book Bless This Mouse, I was shocked, disappointed and excited all at the same time. I kept the book on my "to read" pile for 2 weeks. But tonight, I sat down and read it in 2 hours. A-Dor-A-Ble! This was a very sweet book. In a time when most of the books the fly off the shelves are about fighting and killing and vampires and wimpy kids, this book was a breath of fresh air for me. My only concern is that it will be hard to get this book out to a wide audience because it is so sweet.
Bless This Mouse by Lois Lowry (F LOW) is the story of 220 church mice. The mice live secretly and safely in the church, keeping to themselves and avoiding humans. Hildegarde is the Mouse Mistress, the leader of the mice. She is a very serious and keeps the mice in line- she doesn't tolerate in nonsense. The mice population is beginning to grow, and this is worrisome to Hildegarde. She knows that fall is a very bad time to be a church mouse. In September, the church celebrates The Feast of Saint Francis and the Blessing of The Animals. All of the parishioners are invited to bring their pets to the church for a blessing. This is very dangerous for the mice because the children bring their cats to be blessed. The blessing of the animals in safe when held Outdoors, but if it rains, the Blessing of the Animals is held in the church. In the past, many mice have been list to the jaws of cats that have gotten loose. Hildegarde is concerned that the large number of mice babies will draw the attention the people and their pets- baby mice are hard to control and adolescent mice never listen to their parents.
To make matters worse, the mice have grown a bit careless. They have been taking shortcuts and risks that they usually don't take. Several parishioners have seen mice in the church, but when mischief of baby mice are spotted in the ladies room, the priest, Father Murphy decides to call The Great X (the exterminator). Hildegarde is faced with the terrible task of saving the entire mouse population. She leads them on a mass exodus from the church to the graveyard to wait out the exterminator.
She discovers that the situation in the church has become very dangerous. The exterminator has left behind rodent poison and glue traps. Glue traps lead to a terrible death when the mouse steps on the glue and gets stuck, left to starve or suffocate. Hildegarde hatches an ingenious plan to save the mice from the traps... but the plan is very dangerous. Will the mice be able to return to the church? Will the cats devour more mice during The Blessing of the Animals? Hmmm.... I''ll never tell!This book is a quick read, and would make a wonderful bedtime read aloud for kids K-3. You could easily pair this book with The Tale of Desperaux. I felt like I got to know the characters of the book and grew to love each of them (even Lucretia, by the end). Bless This Mouse is a sweet little story that packs a big punch. I struggled with all of the "church words", like Narthex, Sacristy chasuble, and I think kids will too. At first glance, it may look like a great early reader chapter book, but it has hard vocabulary that would prove difficult for a third grade: audaciously, undercroft, haphazard, translucent and admonished. Also, Hildegarde discuss the proliferate reproductive lives that mice have, which may cause questions in young children.