Thursday, October 01, 2009

Open Book: Need a House? Call Ms. Mouse!

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.

Brown Trout

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?"

Henrietta Camps Out

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.


Mama C said...

$124?! Whoa! I think I need that book back...

Unknown said...

Totally neato book!

nessie said...

Grilled mushrooms too!! A gem of a book!

Rebecca said...

Wow! That's one of my favorite childhood books, too. Good thing my mom still has my copy.

Anonymous said...

I had this book when I was little, and it affected my mind. Are the rest of the illustrations available anywhere online? I'd love to look through them all.

arthunter109 said...

This is wonderful!! My sister-in-law gave this book to my daughter Ryan for her 1st birthday. She had me read it every night for 5 years along with another book. Now that she is approaching her marriage, I look forward to the day that she may read it to her children. May they have the same enthusiasm and wonder as she did in following the "Mouse through the House"

Anonymous said...

I had this book as a child. I am now an architect. It's nice to see others enjoyed it as much as I did.

Lauren said...

I love this book! I too grew up with it but sadly it has been lost. I was wondering if there is any way you could post a picture of the bird's house? It was my favorite as a child and I've been scouring the internet to find a picture with no such luck. Thanks for the great post!

Unknown said...

Nice post with awesome points! Can’t wait for the next one.

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erika said...

Can you please scan more pictures of the book? I really need these images for teaching

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