The Mouse Mansion
By Karina Schaapman
“Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse,” quotes a line from Clement Clarke Moore’s poem, “The Night Before Christmas. However, that is not the case for Karina Schaapman, artist and author, who has fashioned a labor of mouse love in her more than one hundred room mouse house!
Made of cardboard boxes and paper mache, Ms. Schaapman’s wonderful mansion presents a tipsy turvy mouse mansion with a conglomeration of highly decorated rooms with endless corridors to wander through, and even an outdoor space for these tiny mouse inhabitants to pick and poke through. Young readers love to pore over tiny details in picture books and here is one that provides not just a story of best friends Julia and Sam that live in The Mouse Mansion, but a slew of adventures to be discovered with them. You and they will together discover secret rooms, learn the art of pancake making, have celebratory birthday parties for cousin Sophie, learn to do laundry ( less is more than enough soap ) and, what’s that? Do I smell a rat in the mansion? Not to worry. It’s only a shadow on the staircase wall. Mice, like kids have very active imaginations.
These adorable mouse best friends can change Huggies diapers for newborns and even manage a case of chicken pox that descends on Julia. Polka dots on mouse fur are kind of cute, actually.
Their adventures include a meet and greet with someone called The Ragman where they earn money ( a colossal 25 cents – such riches! ), helping him neaten gathered clothes and newspapers that they spend on chocolate at the local…. sigh. It’s one exciting adventure after another for these highly industrious mice. And your young readers may find their mouse mischief may mirror some of the many chores some of your children might be helping out with at home or maybe WANT TO. Hint Hint!
Meet Sam’s Grandpa who mends fishing nets,The Shop that Sells Everything and Sam’s aunt who sets out her very best china and cutlery for a delicious chicken soup repast. She covers the bread with embroidered cloth and introduces them, as all are seated, to the lighted candles of a Sabbath Supper. If you look carefully on the wall, you s see some handsome black hatted relatives with beards.
This picture book is a treasure hunt through more than one hundred over-stuffed rickety rooms with two endearing mice named Julia and Sam and visitors and relatives that drop into their Mouse Mansion. Sam even has a brand new brother and two new baby sisters that drop in and need tending. Believe me, these two are up to the task! Young readers will probably identify with this scenario that they have encountered to some degree in their own families!
My favorite part is The Secret Hiding Place called the hidey place. Don’t most children have a box like Julia and Sam where they stash their most treasured things? For these mice, it’s bits of string, old coins and their favorite buttons. So sweet and real!
Ms. Schaapman’s picture book, The Mouse Mansion is a metaphor for the endless discovery that is the major part of childhood.
I want to go back to “The Mouse Mansion” again, visit with Julia and Sam, explore again with their mouse folk and find out where that violin music is coming from!
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