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The Mouse and His Child

Written by Russell Hoban

Illustrated by David Small

“One of the great children’s classics of the 20th century”
- The Children’s Book Trust

Russell Hoban is probably best known and loved for his charming series of books about Frances the badger. In 1967, however he wrote a novel that many consider one of the great works of children’s literature of the twentieth century, The Mouse and His Child.


“Good heavens!” exclaimed the father. He had been walking more and more slowly without noticing it, and now he stopped, astonished, as the reciprocally winding springs inside him, having lost a little energy each day through friction, came at last unwound. “I’m not wound up anymore!” he said.

“Well,” said Frog, “I don’t suppose anyone ever is completely self-winding. That’s what friends are for.”

"I'm excited at the notion that you're doing a new edition of The Mouse and His Child. It's a story very much of the postwar twentieth century, given that it doesn't shrink from portraying nihilism and cruelty. Yet, it's still a children's book; (and in this all of us beyond 1950 continue to be children) it offers small cozinesses, achievable goals, a hope for modest gains. It's a comic masterpiece, no less." - Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked

"This is one of my three favorite animal fantasy books ever. I am so happy it's being reissued, because I could never have parted with my own edition and now I have something to give to my grandkids." - Jane Yolen, author of Owl Moon, the Young Merlin trilogy, and The Devil's Arithmetic

"I am delighted that you are re-issuing Mouse and His Child. I keep the 1967 Harper’s copy on my ‘It had better jump into my hand’ shelf. The book is metaphysical but exists on many levels. Therefore, it is eminently discussible on many levels. It's great to read to youngsters and see what they think is happening. Thanks for the re-issue. When I was working, the copies in the libraries where I perched, were in tatters." - Dr. Ruth Gordon, librarian

Perhaps the key reaction came from Caldecott Medalist David Small, who told us that reading this novel years ago was what inspired him to become a children’s book artist. We’re doubly thrilled therefore to present his stunning visual interpretation of Hoban’s masterpiece.

Reviews and Awards

Society of Illustrators Gold Medal
CBC Choice
Publishers Weekly Book Happiest to See Back in Print Cuffies Award
BookSense 76 Selection 

“The mouse and his child are broken and discarded windup toys, joined at the hands, who venture forth into a world filled with adversity. And they are, of course, us. The progress of the mechanical pilgrims to a new and improved version of their lost paradise (where toys become self-winding and enemies friends) is told with a gravity that is part-biblical, part-Chaplinesque and wholly unforgettable.” - The Washington Post

“The adventures of the mouse and his child, their search for a home and their quest to become self-winding, have been out of print for some years and the time is obviously ripe for a new edition. The illustrator David Small is an inspired choice to rearm the shrew battalions, to redesign the dolls’ house and to clothe our heroes in fresh new plush.... One of the reasons The Mouse and His Child speaks to such a range of readers is that Hoban seems to have brought himself whole to this story, all ages of man. In its inventive celebration of junk it reveals the consciousness of a child. In its lyricism it suggests a young man newly in love. In its tenderness we see the father of young children. And in its dark places we meet a middle-aged man in crisis.” - The New York Times Book Review

“Russell Hoban’s singular The Mouse and His Child borrows motifs of classic children’s literature—talking toys, animal communities, and the tension between mortality and the longing for eternal life - and infuses them with a darker sensibility. The novel forebodes an ill wind in the willows. But as it rejects sentimentality and lays waste to naivete, this story of two clockwork mice, linked at the hands in a perpetual dance, has a haunting, surreal beauty.... The Mouse and His Child is a masterpiece, and David Small... [has] done a worthy job of refreshing it. This wonderful new design never intrudes, but in fact enlarges the classic text.” - The Riverbank Review

A splendid book! It operates on several levels; it can be read as a simple adventure story, packed with incident, and with a fair amount of BONK! SPLASH! KERPLONK! But there is also a wry, dry wit for those who are ready for it. And beneath the book's bright busy surface lie philosophical and psychological depths. It's an extremely rich…deeply human story. This is a book that can be returned to many times at many ages, and there will always be something new to be found in it." - The Horn Book

"Man and child will recognize themselves in The Mouse and His Child . A rich, disturbing, very touching book." - Kirkus

Purchase Options
Indiebound • Amazon • Barnes & Noble

Fall 2001
Illustrated Novel
ISBN: 0-439-09826-2
Price: $16.95/$23.99
Trim Size: 7" x 9 1/4"
Page Count: 256
Foreign Rights: Harold Ober Associates
Translation Rights: Harold Ober Associates
Rights Available? yes