Tumtum and Nutmeg.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Big Sister isn't quite reading on her own yet, but she loves when I read aloud to her.  And reading together is one of the highlights of my day.  She's not exactly a snuggly, quiet listener.  She's a wiggly, question-asking listener.  She pays attention, and she's curious.  She laughs out loud, sometimes when I think the text is funny and often when I don't.  She's loved chapter books for a long time now, and every night she begs for just one more chapter.  When I love the book, I often give in.

We recently finished this fun book, which had me reading one more chapter almost every night:

It's Tumtum and Nutmeg: Beyond Nutmouse Hall by Emily Bearn.  There are three books in one volume, for a total of more than 500 pages.  Quite a long book for a wiggly four-year-old, but really it seemed much too short.  It has everything a book needs -- tiny, cute animal characters who talk and wear clothes, real human children, adventure, suspense, mystery, tenderness, a love story, a fairy, pirates, underwear, army men, ballerinas, pogo sticks, a mean aunt, camping, boating, chocolate, and good friends.  It's perfectly suited to both boys and girls.  We can't wait for additional stories.

The main characters -- Tumtum and Nutmeg Nutmouse -- are modest little sweethearts who love their simple, quiet life in the majestic Nutmouse Hall, which is in a hidden broom cupboard of Rose Cottage, where the (human) Mildew family lives.  Unlike their friend General Marchmouse, the Nutmouses do not especially want a life of adventure.  But adventure always seems to find them.  In the first story, the Nutmouses begin visiting the Mildew children's room while they are sleeping, mending holes in their clothes and taking care of their delapidated attic room.  When Aunt Ivy comes to visit the Mildews and spots the mice, the Nutmouses find themselves embroiled in an epic adventure to fulfill a promise to rid the house of Aunt Ivy, before she rids the house of mice.  In the second story, General Marchmouse -- whose adventurous spirit leads to carelessness -- gets captured by the Mildew children and taken to school, where he's put in a cage with naked gerbils.  The Nutmouses must rescue General Marchmouse before the teacher gets rid of all the rodents.  The third story has General Marchmouse and the Nutmouses stranded on an island, from which they must escape before they encounter trouble with pirate rats.  Each story is fun and exciting, with new adventures and characters.

I will warn that the stories, while quite well-written, do contain a few themes and concept that might warrant explanation and prompt discussion.  Be ready for mention of rifles, battalions, gunpowder, soldiers, armies, grenades, fighting, pirates, liqueurs, drunkenness, and gangplanks.  For the most part, those things are not central to the story, but they're prominent enough that editing as you go would be tough.  So if you're not ready for questions about those things, you might want to wait a bit.  Also, the word "stupid" appears in the story several times.  Unlike the other themes though, it's quite easy to omit while reading.

If you can't wait to learn about the ballerinas on pogo sticks, head to Amazon, where the hardback including all three stories is now on sale for $6.80!

Bonus:  The Calico Critter Norwood Mouse Family contains a perfect Tumtum and Nutmeg, plus two little friends (General and Mrs. Marchmouse?).

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