I didn’t write more soon.
But I am writing more.
I finished the book The Mouse and His Child by Russell Hoban. I loved it.
Having been separated from that book for thirty years and having grown into a fairly well-educated adult and father, I can see so many areas the book must have touched my life through planting seeds and dreams. I did not feel as though the book was beneath me, though its meta-narrative and under-pinning worldview seemed to be much more apparent than I could remember them being when I was a child.
While not very subtle with its philosophical intentions, the book draws the reader into the story. I’m not sure if the author intended this or not, but the very approachability of the story seems to follow the evolution of the Mouse who struggles with becoming something other (or perhaps greater) than as whom he begins the story. At first the Mouse is very set in his ways and somewhat aloof. The writing in the early chapters tends not to demand the reader’s attention as much as it does later in the book as the Mouse grabs on more fiercely to his own independence and life. By the end of the book, the Mouse and the story become very difficult to leave, as a piece of art and as a story.
My heart fell when I found what I thought was that incredible moment with the dog food can reduced to a little over a couple of paragraphs in the second chapter. Fortunately, I found much later that all I had remembered was fulfilled in a later chapter while it included much more than I recalled — much to my delight.
It begins with the main characters recognizing their lot in life and feeling impotent to change it, even though the desire simmers to investigate and question. Not long into the story circumstances change so that the main characters, the Mouse and his Child, are able to seek their dreams. It continues through their struggle to make their dreams reality, by fighting circumstance, doubt and very real foes.
The book provides inspiration to those who feel the pull to seek after something greater than themselves – to pursue a dream and a longed-for future. While not overtly Christian, the book does include elements of life, death and rebirth, sin, repentance and forgiveness and would fit pretty well into a familial study. It does get rather violent and even scary at times, but I think the themes are more than tame enough for pre-teens. It’s a good starting place for many philosophical and moral discussions.
If you have a chance to read this little gem, please take the time. You won’t regret this little jaunt into Mr. Hoban’s inspired imagination.