Since it's Banned Books Week, it's fitting that we post a new Open Book. It's not that this children's tale is controversial or taboo, it's just a good excuse to finally post this.
I grew up with Need a House? Call Ms. Mouse! written by George Mendoza. Published in 1981, this book chronicles the work of Henrietta, a FEMALE mouse architect and designer.
As a child, I remember finding something new each time I examined an animal abode. I loved peeking through a jagged slice of earth into the secret animal lives and I delighted in the working relationship between beasts (a mouse is helping a cat?!).
Looking back through the book now, I realize how each home fits the purpose of each animal. Not one home is sloppy or cluttered or excessive. Every modest room, each basic accessory has its reason for being there. Well, except for Pig...she's, by nature, decadent.
The drawings/paintings by Doris Susan Smith are enchanting and vibrant. Some of my favorites are Brown Trout (above) and Worm (below).
Yet one of the best parts of the book is - and I'm not ruining it for you - THE END. Henrietta is shown camping out, grilling mushrooms and hot dogs over an open fire, and the introspective text reads: "As for Henrietta, she cares only for the simple life! What about you?"
To bring it full circle, there might be one reason this book might be banned...or at least re-drawn: check out the inside/back cover image of the furry and cig-smokin' contractor!
Surprisingly, finding your own Ms. Mouse might be tricky and/or expensive. The book is listed on Amazon but sold only through used book vendors, the low price of $124. As tempting as it is, I cannot possibly part with mine.