Monday, January 16, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Young Fredle

Books filled with talking animal characters are not usually my thing, but Cynthia Voigt captured me with Young Fredle, quite possibly because this is the second of her talking animal books that I have adored. Honestly, no kidding, I'm a hard sell when it comes to talking animals. Angus and Sadie (the story of two sheep-herding dogs living with Mister and Missus) was the first one I loved (and Angus and Sadie do reappear in Young Fredle), but this book focuses on the mice (yep, mice) in Mister and Missus' home and on their farm.

The premise: Fredle is a kitchen mouse, learning the art of sleeping all day and foraging for food scraps at night. He enjoys his family and knows the importance of keeping safe--and keeping the family safe. But one night he and an adventurous cousin can't resist a treat covered in dark brown lusciousness and filled with gooey white goodness. They eat it and love it, but soon it makes them very, very sick. And since mice families don't tolerate sick, weak, or old mice, they are pushed out into the middle of the kitchen during the day. This is what happens to sick, weak, or old mice--they get went. And no mouse has ever returned after being went.

What keeps readers reading: Fredle's adventure. Fredle makes it out of the kitchen--alive! (Sorry, bit of a spoiler there but it does say it on the inside of the jacket cover too). He gets outside, and it's a foreign land. Although he's scared, he's also entranced. Lights twinkle in the night sky, water droplets hang on green stalks, and flowers bloom. Predators abound outside too--barn cats, owls, snakes, and raccoons--but Fredle finds friends in unlikely places, friends who understand that he longs for home.

What I adored most about Young Fredle is the way Cynthia Voigt masterfully weaves messages throughout her story. The adventure and talking animals will appeal to younger, developed readers as well as older ones because the plot moves and grows, but this is also a story of discovery. And as young Fredle discovers, so does the reader.

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11 comments:

  1. Animals aren't my thing either. But this sounds interesting. Thanks for the review.

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  2. Cynthia Voigt is a wonderful writer. I haven't read this yet, but one of my fellow booksellers loves it.

    Secrets at Sea was the first mouse book I'd read in a while. And it's adorable.

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  3. Believable talking animals depends on the set-up and how invested I get in the struggle of the character. Just like all characters, they need to be three-dimensional. I loved Charlottes Web because the characters had quirky personalities and real desires and fears. Who didn't love Templeton, the rat, I can still hear his voice in my head when I think of him. Sounds like this may have some of those same qualities. Thanks for the review!

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  4. My daughter picked this up at the library--that's how I ended up reading it. She, unlike me, loves talking animal characters.

    Pam, your whole comment is so right on, and I forgot all about Charlotte's Web (although I don't know how I could have), and yes, this book does have those qualities.

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  5. I am an impossible sale on talking animal books :( (I know. I'm not too proud of it).
    However the story is indeed interesting and the cover (I must confess) is very cute. Maybe I should make a tbr list of this type of books to read sometime this year.

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  6. This does sound very cute. Makes me think of both Desperaux and Subway Mouse, which are two mouse oriented faves.

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  7. This sounds like a fun book. Talking animals are okay with me, as long as it isn't too annoyingly cute or silly. I will have to check this out!

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  8. I will be reading this one! Thanks for sharing. And oh my I love that cover!

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  9. Charlotte's Web is my all-time favorite. I think adults have a harder time with idea of animals talking--kids seem to love it!

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  10. Aw, Young Fredle sounds like an adorable book! :)

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  11. Oooo! I forgot to mention delightful illustrations throughout the story.

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