Friday, 28 March 2014

ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 28th March 2014 - "Hermelin - The Detective Mouse" by Mini Grey (Jonathan Cape PB Ltd)

Hermelin - The Detective Mouse

Written and Illustrated by
Mini Grey

Published by Jonathan Cape PB Ltd

Mini Grey's latest book sneaked up on us, tapped us on the big toe and took us completely by surprise. Rather like the wonderful mouse detective who is the star of this utterly fantastic story.

Hermelin (named for this rather delicious looking Czech cheese)...

Hermelin Cheese - Drool-worthy stuff, not just for mice! a little mouse with a unique gift. Emerging from the cheese box which bore his name, Hermelin quickly found out that he could read - and with the aid of a typewriter hidden away in the loft he lives in, write and converse with the people he shares a street with.

Opening with a fantastic double page spread of the street, Mini Grey is a devil for the detail and you'll already know this if you've loved any of her previous books (The Traction Man series are amongst our favourite children's books). In that spread you'll be able to pick out a series of intricate little events that Hermelin eventually ends up investigating. With keen mouse-powers of observation, and a knack for being in the right place in the right time, Hermelin types up notes and hints for the residents of Offley Street, helping them retrieve lost items - or even save a much-loved pet goldfish before a nasty cat wolfs it for lunch.

Soon, Hermelin's detective prowess and heroism comes to the fore when one of the youngest residents is in mortal danger, and Hermelin must act swiftly to prevent a catastrophe.

The residents of Offley Street want to thank the hidden hero, who has remained in the shadows the whole time. But mice aren't to everyone's taste, and poor Hermelin realises that he is in fact a pest not a pal.

Forlorn, dejected and upset, Hermelin settles down to sleep, determined to leave the street the very next day. But one resident is rather more forgiving - and can't wait to meet the mouse detective herself.

Mini Grey's gift is her ability to mix an enticing story with some dazzling layouts, gorgeous artwork and an absolute ton of detail packed onto every page. It's so delicious watching the events laid out in that first panel unfolding throughout the first part of the story, and then realising that Mini Grey could be onto something here, a whole series of Hermelin books with kid-friendly detective stories wrapped up in such a wonderful way. The book's effect on Charlotte was electric - truly brilliant to see her loving the book so much, and wanting to hear the story again and again. In fact, because of Mini Grey's approach, it's absolutely brilliant to visit and revisit Hermelin's world to pick up on all the bits you'll inevitably miss first time.

Mini truly is a superstar. Do not miss this one!

Charlotte's best bit: The munching crunching dustbin lorry and its unintentional human passenger. Eeks!

Daddy's Favourite bit: A delicious book, that's even tastier than the cheese our heroic little mouse detective is named for!