Horatio Squeak (Karen Foxlee, illus by Evie Barrow, Walker)
Horatio, the smallest and shyest in a large family of mice, lives in a very big house on a very grand street. One day he is invited to a party in the attic. With great trepidation, and encouraged by his mother, he sets out to the party, only to discover he has been invited by a family of kittens. As an adult reader, I felt some anxiety for Horatio, but one soon realises the kittens are on their best behaviour and are just happy to have a mouse to play with. When one of them catches a hapless little bird, their feline nature asserts itself and it is up to Horatio to stop the cats from tormenting the poor bird. Bravery and standing up for oneself and others are great themes in children’s books. The fact that in Horatio Squeak it’s one tiny mouse against a trio of cats gives the story the epic tone of a fable, and the reader can’t escape the fact that there’s a worthwhile message in the story. The text is written in rhyme, which makes it good to read aloud, and the illustrations are sweet with a nostalgic feel.
Louise Pfanner is an author, illustrator and bookseller