Secrets at Sea

Richard Peck, illus. by Kelly Murphy. Dial, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3455-5
Newbery Medalist Peck’s (A Year Down Yonder) dry wit and gentle jabs at social mannerisms appear in full force in this charming tale of a 19th-century mouse family traveling abroad. The story begins when house-mouse Helena and her younger siblings get wind that the human residents upstairs, the Cranstons, are planning to go to Europe to find a proper husband for elder daughter Olive. Not wanting to be left behind in an empty, crumb-free abode, the mice sneak onto the ship, despite their fear of water. “Time is always running out for us mice, and water often figures in,” remarks Helena, whose delightfully genteel narration carries the novel. Once aboard, Helena and her siblings are surprised to find a “major infestation” of other mice traveling with their human housemates. While trying to avoid the ship’s one-eyed “kill-crazy” cat, they scurry from one adventure to the next, rubbing elbows with aristocracy and finding unexpected romance. Readers—especially fans of Beatrix Potter—will revel in the detailed descriptions of mouse-sized joys, woes, and love connections, all beautifully depicted in Murphy’s soft pencil illustrations. Ages 8–12. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/22/2011
Release date: 10/01/2011
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