Mouse on the River: A Journey Through Nature (Mouse’s Adventures)

Image of Mouse on the River: A Journey Through Nature (Mouse’s Adventures)
Release Date: 
May 14, 2024
Thames & Hudson
Reviewed by: 

Mouse on the River is—in a word—delightful.”

“I row along the river
as it flows between the trees.
The birdsong and the smell of summer
float upon the breeze.”

Mouse on the River is—in a word—delightful.

The appeal of so many children’s books is primarily due to their pictures, yet illustrators all too often play second fiddle to the books’ authors, sometimes barely being mentioned at all. Mouse on the River places the credit squarely where it belongs. The book’s Scotland-based, award-winning illustrator and product designer Alice Melvin is the sole name on the front cover, though William Snow is rightly credited with the “text” on the inside cover, which is written in perfect rhyme and compliments the artwork in an appropriately unassuming manner.

Indeed, the book could have been published with no words at all, such is the detail with which Melvin takes us along Mouse’s journey overnight on the often busy yet often tranquil waterway that leads to Mouse’s friend’s tiny house on the seashore. The pages are packed with visual information, even without the delicate flaps revealing the inner details of homes, boats, shops, and vegetation along the way. But these flaps are what render the book’s magic—who doesn’t want to invisibly peer into the private spaces they encounter when traveling?

Excepting the double-spread title sheets and appendices at the back, there doesn’t appear to be a blank or white spot in the entire book. Children and even adults will love finding and pointing out the live and inanimate subjects that are both obvious and hidden within its pages.

Children and adult readers will also relish the detailed map of the waterway at the front of the book; the pictorial glossary containing easy-to-understand definitions of animals and things featured in the story; and especially the colored drawings, on the last page, of the things that Mouse packed for his overnight river expedition—all of which constitute a basic lesson on how to make such a trip themselves.

This is not just a book that you’ll read once or twice. It is a book that children will want to read over and over again, with pictures they will scrutinize repeatedly on their own, and that will, no doubt, remain on many of their bookshelves until they are adults and have children of their own.