Illustrated by Brian Floca
Ages 8 to 12
HarperCollins, 1999, 380-80167-1
Ragweed needs to get away from his home in the country. It is not that he doesn’t like it there, but he needs to explore a little; he needs to see something of the world before he settles down. So off he goes, a very small mouse in a very big world. In a short time Ragweed finds himself chugging into the town of Amperville and no sooner has he got off the train than he is attacked by a very fierce and terrible cat.
Silversides is a cat who really hates mice. In fact she blames all her problems on mouse kind and as far as she and her friend Graybar are concerned, “the only good mouse is a dead mouse.” The mice living in Mouse Town are terrorized by these two cats and worse still they have come to accept the situation. Ragweed is soon caught up in the lives of the Mouse Town mice, making friends with a skateboarding mouse called Clutch, and a “highly educated” pet mouse called Blinker. Together these three very different mice try to find a way to fight back at the cats. For, as Ragweed says: “a mouse has to do what a mouse has to do,” even if it means risking getting “wasted” by a fanatical cat.
Avi has created a very special cast of characters in this first title in the “Tales From Dimwood Forest” series. At the story unfolds, they learn, evolve, and adapt in surprising, and at times amusing, ways. With her funny city speak and her green head fur, Clutch is sure to give readers a smile. In his turn Ragweed turns out to be more exceptional mouse than we could have hoped. Like so many other creatures who have been oppressed by those who are bigger and stronger, Ragweed sees that the strength of the mice lies in their numbers and in their commitment to fight back. Readers will see that change for the better can only happened when creatures (or people) are willing to start acting and start working together.
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