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Little Mouse, Big Heart

Disney is always doing so much; it probably makes sense that some of it would slip by us. Include in that category Delphine and the Silver Needle, a fantasy novel for young readers written by Alyssa Moon. It came out last year in hardcover. “When Delphine, a young orphaned dressmaker mouse living in the walls of Cinderella’s château, stumbles upon an enormous secret, it upends everything she thought she knew: The magical tailor mice of legend really existed. Racing to stay ahead of King Midnight, the fearsome leader of the rats who is bent on harnessing age-old magic, Delphine embarks on an epic quest to uncover the truth about the past. Joined by Alexander, the most pompous noblemouse in the royal court, she travels a perilous route, encountering strange enemies and unlikely allies along the way.” Silver Needle is available now, and the sequel book Delphine and the Dark Thread comes our way this August.


image c. 2022 Disney Press

Art Spiegelman's Maus: A Timely Appreciation

Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (6 votes)

I was just going to sit on this particular entry until a later time, since Maus is a novel I rather grew up with, having discovered it in college. Current events have ratcheted my schedule up to today. See the details in Sonious' article.

As such, Maus is also the latest example in a long line of important literature to see censorship such as To Kill a Mockingbird, 1984, or even The Lorax. Like any of those other examples, the motivation for this censorship grays in contrast to the social and cultural impact the work has.

The story re-imagines the memoirs of a Holocaust survivor, through the anthropomorphic template of Jewish mice suffering at the paws of SS cats. The involved plot revolves around main character Artie and his tight-knit neighborhood of survivors, as they reflect on the horrors of the past. Of course, the weight of these events is more than enough to color their relatively safe present. Much of the novel does indeed read like a Jewish Historical Society compendium, and does not skimp an iota on content of the dire situation they survived.

Tennessee school bans 'Maus', graphic novel involving holocaust history, from school for "language and nudity"

Your rating: None Average: 3 (10 votes)

Maus When we discuss adult themes such as a government committing mass murder of its population, authors need to be wary not to say “God Damn” or have an unclothed character if they wish to reach a high school audience. These two items were front and center for the unanimous decision of a McMinn County school board as it barred the Pultzer winning graphic novel of Maus from its district curriculum. Maus is a graphic novel utilizing animal allegory to give a historical account of the holocaust.

The TN Holler has a full article of each of the board’s words on the removal of the book from the school. Many on social media are concerned that this is part of a trend of washing away the sins of authority by those that hold it. Though, given humanity’s inability to resist taking a bite of what is deemed as forbidden knowledge, banning the book within the classroom may rile the interest of rebellious teens to learn more about this banned literature outside the classroom.

Book reviews: 'Mistmantle Chronicles' and 'Mouseheart'

Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (5 votes)

Mistmantle Chronicles With temperatures down, and entertainment options becoming more and more—homegrown, let's say—it's a good time to catch up on that new-to-you material that aligns with your interests. Here are two of those lesser-known but deserving properties, marketed toward youth. For those of you who were sold on The Secret of NIMH, Redwall, and everything in between, at first view.

Mistmantle Chronicles

The Mistmantle Chronicles by M.I. McAllister has jacket flaps that compare it to The Wind In The Willows and Watership Down, although as you can see from the first installment's cover, there's much more of a Redwall yen in this series. As they say, though, DON'T judge a book by its cover, as the experiences of brave squirrel Urchin on the titular island carry their own identity. This flies in the face of origins that speak to many favorite role-playing games, as he evolves from his discovery on an empty beach to his eventual destiny in foiling a royal coup.

Camaraderie and species characteristics also run heavy in this, as in Redwall, however there is a noticeable amount of personification of reactive emotion and atmosphere as well, where dread and evil are given concrete outlines. Given my frequent mention of the property in the paragraph, you can gather the audience to which Mistmantle speaks. Dig on into this if you're part of that audience, since Miramax has purchased movie rights [albeit in 2004], and some sort of photo-play is probably not far off.

Movie review: 'Tom & Jerry' (2021)

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (6 votes)
Tom and Jerry movie poster
One of many poster designs

Fairly early on while watching this movie, I came to an epiphany: I really don't like Jerry.

Seriously, he's a jerk. I mean, it'd be one thing if he violently thrashed his onscreen partner, Tom, because, after all, Tom is a cat, and cats eat mice. It'd be self-defense. I don't hate the Road Runner when Wile E. Coyote gets squished yet again, even if do feel sorry for Wile. But Tom rarely seems to have any interest in eating Jerry. Neither is Jerry like Bugs Bunny, who doesn't go looking for trouble. In the old shorts, Jerry frequently attacks Tom first, without provocation.

Take, as an example, how Tom and Jerry meet in their latest movie, released this weekend. Tom is busking in New York City's Central Park, when Jerry rudely interrupts him. Now, Tom is not without his own flaws; he's pretending to be blind to attract more customers, which is not cool. But Jerry doesn't seem to be bothered by this; his beef with Tom is clearly that Tom is making money, and he's not. So, he tries to steal his crowd, and then, in a bout of inevitable slapstick violence, breaks Tom's keyboard, which is clearly important to Tom beyond just a means of money. I'm on Tom's side, here.

Well, anyway, Tom & Jerry is a movie about Tom and Jerry. Tom is a cat. Jerry is a mouse. They starred in a bunch of cartoon shorts together starting in 1940, meaning that 2020 was their 80th anniversary. This movie was supposed to commemorate that milestone, but, well, COVID-19. It's mostly a live-action film; only the animals are animated (it wasn't submitted for consideration in the Academy Awards' 2020 Best Animated Feature category, which it would've qualified for under the extended "awards year", which implies the filmmakers consider it live-action). Besides Tom and Jerry (who are basically mute, and charmingly credited as "Themselves"), the movie stars Chloë Grace Moretz and Michael Peña.

Review: 'Ghost of a Tale'

Your rating: None Average: 3.9 (12 votes)

Ghost of a Tale is described as an action-RPG game with stealth elements, dialogues and quests. Of particular interest to furs is that you play as an anthropomorphic mouse character in a world that's very reminiscent of Brian Jacques' Redwall series. Impressively, it is primarily the work of a single developer, Seith, and was funded via IndieGoGo. Ghost of a Tale was available in early access for a long time, although I waited until after the full game was released, in March 2018, before buying a copy.

 

'Sing' will have anthro animals singing 85 songs

Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (4 votes)

SingCan Illumination Entertainment produce anything besides more Despicable Me and Minions movies? The animation studio is aggressively proving that it can – with anthropomorphic animals. It has already announced The Secret Life of Pets for a July 8th, 2016 release. Now The Cartoon Brew website has announced that Illumination Entertainment will also release Sing on December 21st, just in time for Christmas.

Sing sounds roughly like a Muppet movie, or a cleaned-up Meet the Feebles, with an all-anthro animal cast. Buster Moon, a koala theatrical producer, is producing a vaudeville-style live show. The hopefuls trying to get a part include a mouse crooner, a timid elephant, a pig mother with too many piglet youngsters, a young gorilla trying to break free from his mob family, a punk-rock porcupine and more. The voice cast includes Matthew McConaughey, Seth MacFarlane, Tori Kelly, Reese Witherspoon, Taron Egerton, Scarlett Johanssen and John C. Reilly, among others.

Illumination promises that Sing will have 85 songs! Is that a record for any musical, much less a funny-animal one?

Captain Carrot 1982 series being digitally released by DC on ComiXology

Your rating: None Average: 3.9 (7 votes)

Zoo_Crew_1_cover_0.jpgDC is doing a digital release of Captain Carrot And His Amazing Zoo Crew! this year. First issue was released in 1982... now rereleased August 19th, 2014!

From Wikipedia:

Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! is a DC Comics comic book about a team of funny animal superheroes called the Zoo Crew. The characters first appeared in a special insert in The New Teen Titans #16 (February 1982),[1] followed by a series published from 1982 to 1983. The Zoo Crew characters were created by Roy Thomas and Scott Shaw!. Although the series, which was the last original funny animal property created by DC Comics, proved short-lived, it is still fondly remembered by many comic fans of its generation, and the characters appear occasionally in cameos in the mainstream DC Universe (this is made possible due to the existence of a "multiverse" in the DCU, which allows the Zoo Crew characters to exist on a parallel Earth).

Review: 'Mousemobile' by Prudence Breitrose

Your rating: None Average: 4.4 (7 votes)

MousemobileI would like to thank Mister Twister for calling this title to my attention by reviewing the first book in this series, Mousenet. This is its sequel.

Mousenet and Mousemobile are recommended for readers 8 to 12, grades 3 to 7. They are clearly juvenile fiction, but are well-written and imaginative enough that “all ages” might be a better recommendation. Megan Miller, the protagonist, who was 10 years old in Mousenet, is 11 years old here. The series is not just spinning its wheels; this is a true sequel.

In Mousenet, Megan and three others – her slightly older step-cousin Joey Fisher and two adults, Megan’s inventor uncle Fred Barnes who made the mouse-sized Thumbtop miniature computer, and Joey’s father Jake who invented the solar blobs that are its power supply – become the only humans who learn that all mice are intelligent, and want the Thumbtop for all mice around the world so they can communicate instantly via a Mouse Internet. They obviously need more than a single miniature computer curiosity if this is to happen, so Mousenet is about the two children and the mice – particularly Trey, the Talking Mouse, and the officious but smart head of the Mouse Nation, the Chief Executive Mouse (a.k.a. Topmouse, known as the Big Cheese behind his back) – persuading Fred and Jake to mass-produce the Thumbtop. The mice come up with the fiction that enables the two adults to get away with this, by creating a “cute” small company, Planet Mouse, to purportedly make miniature computers as novelty keychain fobs, in Megan’s and Uncle Fred’s home city of Cleveland, Ohio.

Illustrated by Stephanie Yue, NYC, Disney•Hyperion Books, October 2013, hardcover $16.99 (282 pages), paperback $7.99, Kindle $9.99.

Animation: 'Thunder and the House of Magic'

Your rating: None Average: 4 (3 votes)

Jerry Beck has just announced on his Animation Scoop website that Shout! Factory will release the December 2013 Belgian-made (for Christmas 2013 release in French-speaking parts of Europe) 85-minute animated feature The House of Magic, retitled Thunder and the House of Magic and dubbed into English, in theaters in U.S. “selected cities” on September 5. The selected cities include New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Boston, Houston, Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. Shout! Factory is primarily a DVD releaser, so presumably this will become a generally-available DVD release shortly after that.

Under either title, this looks like a kids’ CGI animated feature that furry fans will enjoy, with an anthropomorphized kitten, rabbit, mouse, dog, doves, and lots of Toy Story-type toys saving an elderly stage magician’s house from being sold out from under him by a greedy nephew. The movie is made by Brussels’ nWave Pictures, which made the 2010 A Turtle's Tale: Sammy's Adventures and the 2012 A Turtle's Tale 2: Sammy's Escape from Paradise features that have already become children’s DVDs in America.

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

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

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.

Review: 'Play Little Victims', by Kenneth Cook

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (4 votes)

Play Little Victims This short but deadly satire is set in the U.S., but has never been published there. Does it cut too close to home?

In 2000 (this was written in 1978), God decides to wipe out all life on Earth by covering everything instantly with giant glaciers. (Actually, He intended to wipe out all life in 1000 A.D., but He forgot.) He misses one two-square-mile valley in the center of North America, inhabited by two field mice, Adamus and Evemus. Because God also scraps the laws of evolution, the mice immediately develop intelligence. Not knowing that God missed them by accident, they decide that they are God’s new chosen people; and since the small valley has a town with a radio and TV station, an automobile factory, and lots of back issues of newspapers, they assume that He wants them to model themselves upon humans.

In no time at all, because mice breed fast, there are enough of them for Adamus to appoint a Board to help him guide the common mice.

‘I mean,’ continued Adamus, ‘it is obvious to all that this wonderful world in which we live did not just happen by accident. There has to be a Divine Plan and we are part of that Plan. We have a destiny which we must fulfill.’
The mice all looked at each other and nodded wisely.
‘Well,’ said Adamus, ‘I have discovered what it’s all about. What happened was this: the source of all being is God, who made the Valley and everything else in the universe. To prepare the way for mousekind God sent a sort of vanguard of creatures He called Men, who might best be thought of as sort of supermice. These Men prepared the Valley for us and left us all these marvelous technological aids for our existence. They also left us a vast body of literature for our guidance. Our destiny in life is to fulfill the plan of God by making the Valley an extension of Heaven. To guide us in this task we have the Word of Man, so we just can’t go wrong.’ (p. 12)

Needless to say, the mice go wrong with almost every decision that Adamus makes. One mouse on the Board, Logimus, thinks for himself and has doubts about Adamus’ pronouncements about what God wants. But Adamus, backed by his Board of yes-mice, steamrollers right over him.

Rushcutters Bay, NSW, Australia, Pergamon Press, June 1978, vi + 87 pages, 0-08-023123-3, $A9.00. Illustrated by Megan Gressor.

Review: 'Night of the Rabbit' for PC and Mac

Your rating: None Average: 5 (4 votes)

A white rabbit in a waistcoat Night of the Rabbit is a third-person point-and-click adventure game, developed by Daedalic Entertainment, released in May 2013 for PC, Mac, and on Steam. If you like adventure games, check it out! If you're not into adventure games, this probably won't be your thing.

What's it about? You play an optimistic young British boy named Jerry Hazelnut, living cozily next to a forest on the outskirts of a modern city. Summer is nearing its end, when suddenly a tall, talking white rabbit shows up, and you get to fulfill one of your dreams - becoming a wizard's apprentice and learning magic. To do this, the rabbit whisks you away to Mousewood, the miniature world of the forest animals. A darkness is slowly growing, but first you need to explore the area, help people out and learn some basic spells.

The Bear and Mouse Come To America

Big news from our friends over at Cartoon Brew, especially if you’re a fan of traditional animation: “Indie animated feature distributor GKIDS has announced that the highly anticipated hand-drawn French film Ernest and Celestine will open in New York and Los Angeles on March 14, 2014. That will be followed by national expansion to all major US markets. GKIDS has qualified Ernest and Celestine for the Academy Awards this year in the film’s original French language with subtitles. The American release, however, will be dubbed with a voice cast that includes Forest Whitaker, Lauren Bacall, Paul Giamatti, William H. Macy, Megan Mullally, and Nick Offerman. The small New York-based distributor has experienced fantastic success at the Oscars during the past five years by countering the big studios with quieter, more personal hand-drawn fare. They have earned nominations for three of their features: The Secret of Kells, A Cat in Paris, and Chico & Rita.” Check it out next year.


image c. 2013 GKIDS