Book review of Mouse on the River by Alice Melvin


After sharing a year with Mouse in Mouse’s Wood, young readers can now enjoy a day on the river with Mouse on the River: A Journey Through Nature, a quiet picture book full of charm. As the titular hero spends the day rowing down a river that eventually meets the sea, the most dramatic event is a passing rainstorm—making this a good choice for a soothing bedtime tale.

William Snow’s rhyming text moves the story along as Mouse begins his solo journey early in the morning, while fellow anthropomorphic friends wave goodbye from the dock. This is very much an experiential book, with a multitude of details to scour, beginning with the full-spread map showing Mouse’s planned route. Numerous die-cut flaps encourage keen observation as they reveal cozy, detailed interiors of buildings along the way, including a floating house, a café and a treehouse. Additional fold-out flaps appearing as trees enhance the sense of Mouse’s ongoing progress, enlarging several scenes beyond the book’s borders. Once the journey is complete, an illustrated list of Mouse’s equipment—as well as depictions of flora and fauna encountered along the way—will encourage enthusiastic readers to go back and find these items. 

The star of this show is Alice Melvin’s rich illustrations, which are chock-full of details: squirrels having tea inside a bright cafe; a fox waiting on a customer in a well-stocked bakery; Mouse camping snugly in the rowboat underneath the stars. The book brings to mind another one that quickly became a favorite in our house when my girls were young: Welcome to Mouse Village, written by Gyles Brandreth and illustrated by Mary Hall.

Mouse on the River is a well-planned, enchanting adventure worthy of repeat enjoyment.

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