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'Mousenet': marketed at children, meant for everyone, reviewed by a furry

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

MousenetIt may come off as an unpleasant surprise for some of you, to see a review of something two years old submitted only now. But, as the old saying goes, better late then never!

Anyways...

Mousenet by Prudence Breitrose is something of an oddity, for it is truly a book for all ages. As long as the idea of a child protagonist and cute little mice does not turn you off, you will enjoy the story, no matter your age. Actually, a good thing to compare this story to would be The Rescuers, an obscure little movie from the 70s you have probably never heard of.

The story concerns itself with mice, which is sort of obvious. But these mice are not ordinary; they have evolved. Though it is implied the computer technology of the humans (that's us, by the way) helped, the fact remains that the mice of the book have gained quite a lot of intelligence recently, to the point of creating a worldwide mouse society, with standardized sign language, culture and social order. And the mice have taken a liking to the Internet, creating the titular Mousenet in the depth of our Internet. Unfortunately, mice can only use computers while we are away or asleep, and operating huge keyboards with tiny paws is cumbersome and hilarious, as described.

On the other side of the plot, an inventor named Fred invents the world's tiniest laptop. He intends it to be a novelty, something to be put in a museum of useless but amusing things. The mice however, see it as an opportunity...

Illustrated by Stephanie Yue, Disney-Hyperion, February 2013, hardcover $12.97, paperback $7.19, Kindle $6.83, 416 pages.

The story proper deals with Fred's niece named Meghan, her new family and the Mouse Nation's attempt at establishing relations with her, through highly trained mouse ambassadors. They plan on using Meghan to convince her uncle to mass produce the tiny laptops (lovingly named thumbtops) for the mice.

That is the book's premise, and without spoiling many other things, and ruining the reading experience for everyone, let me tell you why I loved Mousenet to pieces. First of all, the author, Prudence Breitrose, does not talk down to you. At all. The language may be simple, but that is only to make it accessible to children. Simple is definitely not stupid here.

Second, the relations and dialogue between Meghan and everyone else is natural and believable. There is a subplot involving the girl adjusting to living with a stepmother, while her biological mother is away on a job. A bad story would get into the MISUNDERSTANDING nonsense that bogs down good stories. But not here; the stepmother is a very nice person, and Meghan grows to like her very quickly. There is also a "green" message in the book, but it is not the main focus, and fits very naturally with the main plot of intelligent mice trying to manufacture tiny computers.

But my most favorite thing about the book is definitely the relation between Meghan and the mice. In stories created since the dawn of time, animals would usually help the protagonist in time of need. There were the kind ants in "The Story of Psyche and The Cupid" (from The Golden Ass) who helped her sort the grain. There was the wise talking horse from the tale of Ivan and the Firebird. And who can forget the helpful mice from Walt Disney's adaptation of Cinderella?

Well, as a breath of fresh air, the mice are not here to help the little girl deal with a cruel stepmother (who is established as the nicest woman this side of Baltimore). No, in this story the girl and the mice both have some problems, and the two agree to work together to help one another. Also, a valuable thing to note would be the masterful separation of importance between Meghan and the mice. Neither side is more interesting, neither side bogs down the story; both the Mouse Nation and the humans are equally interesting, and Prudence deserves some applause for pulling that off.

Last, but not least, I want give some praise to Stephanie Yue, who did the wonderful illustrations for the book. Her pictures do more than summarize what you're reading on the pages; they communicate real emotion (and motion, when needed). Plus, her style is just so cool! No, really, I am now a fan of hers.

Well, this is it: my review of Mousenet. I hope I will convince as many of you as possible to read the book. It is amazing!

Comments

Your rating: None

Nice links you added there. They're very linky. I like that.

Well, I'll be...

Your rating: None Average: 2 (1 vote)

"... 'The Rescuers', an obscure little movie from the 70s you have probably never heard of."

Have you heard of the 1959 children's novel by Margery Sharp that the movie is based on? Both are still available today.

http://www.amazon.com/Rescuers-Review-Books-Childrens-Collection/dp/1590174607/r...

By the way, congratulations on a very good review. I had not known about "Mousenet", and your review definitely makes me want to read it. Thank Roscoe there is a hardcover edition; the chances are good that one of the public libraries has it.

Fred Patten

Your rating: None

Fred Freaking Patten thought my review was well-written?

Well, isn't that a compliment! :D

Well, I'll be...

Your rating: None

Good for the mice, although from my experiences with both mice and rats, I could much more easily believe in rats adopting computers.

As far as I know, up to now all of the animals-using-computers fantasies have been about cats: Beth Hiltgartner’s two adult novels, “Cats in Cyberspace” (Meisha Merlin Publishing, September 2001) and its sequel, “PKP for President” (Brigantine Media/Voyager, December 2011); and Lincoln & Lee Taiz’s all-ages “Libra, the Cat Who Saved Silicon Valley” (AmSea Group Publishing, December 2002). I do not know about any others about animals using computers, although the overly-cute and cat-friendly “Libra, the Cat Who Saved Silicon Valley” has as its villains the Dogma Computer Company.

http://www.flayrah.com/3898/review-pkp-president-beth-hilgartner

Does anyone know of any other animal-computer s-f or fantasy novels? I suppose that the uplifted animals of David Brin’s s-f novels can be assumed to be computer-users.

Fred Patten

Your rating: None

Remember The Rescuers? It's the first ever movie I do remember going to see.

Your rating: None

My first movie was the original tmnt movie; or maybe Beethoven.

Your rating: None

My first movie, or the first that I am sure of, was Disney's "Pinocchio", which, since I was not born yet when it was released, must have been from the first theatrical rerelease, which Disney says was in October 1945. I was not quite five years old. I dimly remember some adult World War II movies about heroic American soldiers fighting the Fiendish Japs that may have been earlier, but not enough to be sure. My Mother said that I was wrong about "Pinocchio" being my first movie because she took me as a babe in arms to see "Bambi". That would have been shortly after my first birthday, and I don't remember it at all.

Fred Patten

Your rating: None

I have reserved "Mousenet" at the Los Angeles Public Library. A copy will be transferred to my local branch in about a week. (The LAPL has over sixty branches.)

Fred Patten

Your rating: None

My local branch of the LAPL just got "Mousenet", and I am about a quarter of the way through it right now. I agree with Mister Twister; it's a great fun read. Although you can tell it's a children's novel, it does not feel too young for adults. Megan Miller, the human protagonist, is ten years old, which is presumably the age of the intended reader; not for LITTLE children, then.

"Mousenet" is an intelligent-mice fantasy with enough plausible detail to seem like science fiction. At this point in the story, the human girl and the main mouse have the potential to change civilization, but there's plenty that can go wrong. At 416 pages, this is not a hasty read. Excuse me while I get back to it.

Fred Patten

Your rating: None

Mister Twister's review of "Mousenet" cites Amazon.com's discounted prices and inaccurate page count. Now that I have the hardcover edition from the LAPL, I see that it's officially $16.99 rather than $12.97, and it's only 389 pages rather than 416. I am a retired librarian, and I worry about discrepancies like this.

Fred Patten

Your rating: None

All the links were added by whoever reviewed the review, not me.

Well, I'll be...

Your rating: None

With regards to price, I do wonder what matters more to our readers - an arbitrary number, or the price that they might actually pay to read a new copy of the book? (Of course, we could quote both, where available.)

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

I think that by now everyone knows that Amazon.com almost always sells books at a discount price. Listing a book by its cover price shows what you may need to pay if you get it from a bookstore other than Amazon.com. If you can find it discounted, maybe for a bigger discount than Amazon.com's, good for you.

Fred Patten

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About the author

Mister Twister (Andrew V.)read storiescontact (login required)

    a stew-dent and Homo Somewhat Sapiens from US of A (east coast), interested in music (listening, collecting and preserving), drawing, 2d animation and i dunno what else.

    Bio - graphy... that "graph" of my "bio"...... what?