A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
There's more action than education here, but young readers will pick up a few bits of lore along the way: the Latin word for mouse is an important plot element, and a cat who loses an eye becomes the butt of Cyclops humor. Kids will enjoy cheering Hopper on as he learns to read and decipher subway maps, and may acquire a few skills of their own as a result.
Strong messages about courage, selflessness, protecting your loved ones and all those who need defending.
Positive Role Models
Being young and confused, Hopper is sometimes led astray by smooth-talking evildoers, but even when he does the wrong thing it's for the right reasons -- because he wants to protect defenseless innocents, such as his brother, Pup. His sister, Pinkie, is more than a little full of herself, but also utterly fearless. Rat prince Zucker proves a steadfast friend, even when Hopper misinterprets his intentions. Several characters are profoundly influenced by their late mothers, who taught them well and were foully murdered.
Violence & Scariness
The opening scene features a rat gouging out a cat's eye. In an early scene, Hopper's sweet mother is snatched away from her babies in the dead of night, presumably to be fed to a snake -- the fate that awaits the young mouse hero and his siblings, brave but bratty Pinkie and innocent Pup. Violent deaths abound, including those of other characters' beloved mothers, as a despotic ruler holds power by sending his luckless victims off to be killed by vicious cats. In one such incident, the mice rise up against their feline attackers, and some die; entire families including terrified babies are frequently in danger of being killed by ruthless predators.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
One of the rats, Marcy, has an obvious crush on Zucker. Zucker is smitten with the girl rat who leads the resistance.
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Products & Purchases
As Hopper and his friends make their way through the subterranean world beneath New York City, they encounter the occasional brand name, e.g. a pennant for the 1955 Dodgers.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
At a banquet, Hopper nibbles on a fermented grape and gets a bit tipsy.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mouseheart, the first volume of Lisa Fiedler's new animal-adventure series, has a charming, well-intentioned hero in young Hopper the mouse, but it may be too upsetting for sensitive kids. The opening scene features a rat gouging out a cat's eye. Kids traumatized by the violent killing of Bambi's mom will find plenty more of the same here, starting with the early scene in which the young hero's sweet mother is snatched away from her babies in the dead of night, presumably to be fed to a snake -- the fate that awaits Hopper and his siblings, brave but bratty Pinkie and innocent Pup. As the story progresses, violent deaths (including those of other characters' beloved mothers) abound, as a despotic ruler holds power by sending his luckless victims off to be killed by vicious cats. In one such incident, the mice rise up against their feline attackers, and some die.
Is It Any Good?
Adding a rodent-themed entry to the popular genre of animal adventure epics, Lisa Fiedler's MOUSEHEART is a lively, imaginative tale with a well-meaning, believably confused hero. But if you're expecting sweet, lighthearted fare along the lines of Richard Peck's mouse sagas, beware: Things are much darker in this story, which begins with a rat gouging out a cat's eye, and mouse children's mother being snatched away to her death, crying out to her babies.
It's the first volume in a planned series, and by the time it ends many helpless innocents, including beloved parents and terrified infants, face violent death, and many are killed. Nasty political intrigue, secret murders, and dark deals abound. Some kids will enjoy being steps ahead of young Hopper as he solves mysteries and makes remarkable discoveries; others may be done in by the gore and traumatic loss.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.