Prather’s Pick: Mice and their pumpkin
First of all, a note to fans of Craig Johnson’s Longmire books: his new book, “An Obvious Fact,” came out in September 2016. I haven’t taken time to browse the book displays in local stores to see if the book is there, but you can order it from Downtown Books, which is what my husband Lyle did (since he owns all of Johnson’s books). It costs about $30 in hardcover, including postage.
This week’s picture book for children was published back in 2004.
I was drawn to the book by the drawing of a pumpkin on the cover. (I love pumpkins!) A mouse, wearing a pair of overalls with a patch stitched on the knee, is sleeping on top of the pumpkin. He’s Thumbkin Mouse. Down below, another mouse, neatly dressed in a pair of pants held up by suspenders, a blue shirt, and a bow tie, is raking an oak leaf. He’s Mr. Murry Mouse, and he has his eye on Thumbkin.
“Mr. Murry and Thumbkin” was written by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Ard Hoyt. The illustrations are charming. According to the credit page of the book, they were done in Prismacolor pencils on Canson paper.
As the story begins, Mr. Murry is scurrying around his house, a teapot turned on its side so that the hinged lid is the door and the spout serves as a stovepipe. Mr. Murry has a million things to worry about such as filling the cat food tin stove with twigs of wood, watering what appears to be a garden in an old tire, doing laundry, cooking and lots of other stuff. Mr. Murry is a flurry-about-in-a-hurry mouse.
One day Thumbkin Mouse moves into a pumpkin next door. In contrast to Mr. Murry, he’s a carefree county-bumpkin mouse who doesn’t worry about anything. He just lies around all day, chewing on a blade of grass. He doesn’t have to worry because Mr. Murry does that for him.
One day Mr. Murry takes his neighbor a raspberry torte. Thumbkin invites him inside the house. What a sight! Seeds hang from the pulpy walls, and Thumbkin is roasting some of them over an open fire. Mr. Murry warns Thumbkin that his pumpkin house is sure to rot, but Thumbkin just passes it off as he gobbles up the raspberry treat.
Mr. Murry continues to warm Thumbkin about his house. Snow will be on its way soon, and the pumpkin roof is sagging already. But Thumbkin pays no attention. He just cuts a hunk of pumpkin so he can make a pumpkin cake. This really disturbs Mr. Murry. How unwise to use part of his house for dessert.
Then it snows, and Thumbkin’s roof sags more each day. Mr. Murry offers to help save the house, but Thumbkin pays no attention until…
This is a delightful book. (I’m thinking that, after reading this story, kids might enjoy making up stories about animals that inhabit other types of houses, such as a flower pot turned on its side or an old watering can or an abandoned bird house!)
“Mr. Murry and Thumbkin” is published by Little, Brown and Company (2004). It costs $15.99 in hardcover, but perhaps you can find the book in softcover for less. The book can also be found at the Craig Moffat County Library.
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