Charlie & Mouse
These four stories cover a day in the life of Charlie and his little brother, Mouse. We meet them in bed, the smaller lump assuring the larger that, despite their conversation, he’s still asleep. If that sounds impossible, a trip to the parental lumps’ bed proves Mouse’s point. When he asks, ‘How can you be sleeping? You are talking,’ the answer from the grown-up lump is, ‘I am a mom. I can do what I want.’
Such humour targets adult readers-out-loud as well as their young audience and those gaining confidence in reading for themselves. The deceptively simple dialogue and clear, well-spaced format suit children ready to move from picturebooks to those with short chapters. As Charlie and Mouse lead their street friends to a party-that-isn’t, then make a fast buck removing rocks from neighbours’ gardens, before employing less-than-subtle delaying tactics at bedtime, they create a warm world of community and comfort. Snyder’s light, spare prose is complemented by bold, wide-eyed illustrations that will endear the small, resolute heroes to young readers. From Helen and Lilly draped round a tree branch, to the procession of children marching to the park, the images are funny and energetic. Dedicated (partly) to Snyder’s own neighbourhood, the book captures American small-town life at its safe, sunny and friendly best.