Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Allister, written by Shelley L. Houston, is a fiction chapter book about the adventures of a young mouse. Allister lives in the walls of an elementary school along with a number of other mice and their families. The community follows a set of rules and has leaders who help make decisions for the safety of all.

When the story opens, Allister is determined to win a game of “Chicken” (which involves taunting and dodging a cat) to prove he is better than his peers. Although his father forbids him to play the game and warns Allister of the risks involved, Allister disobeys. Allister and his friends survive, but with injuries.

Soon other distractions arise. Allister’s family home is discovered and destroyed by humans. Another mouse family takes them in, but under the agreement that Allister’s family will be servants to the host family. Then more tragedy strikes as Allister’s family loses their home a second time and the she-mouse Allister has a crush on moves away. This makes Allister angry. However, as Allister deals with these life issues, he witnesses the faith of his parents. Despite all the misfortune in their lives, his father continually points out the Creator’s provision for them, and his mother praises the Creator for their blessings. The story closes with Allister learning about a Creator who cares about him, and about the meaning of Christmas.

This is the first book in a trilogy.

What I Like: For me, the book was reminiscent of Beverly Cleary’s The Mouse and the Motorcycle. Like Ralph, Allister takes risks and has a bit of spunk to him. He also speaks to a human, which is against the mouse rules. I also liked seeing the parent’s faith in action. I think young readers—especially those who liked Beverly Cleary’s tale—would enjoy the story. There are not many Christian fiction series available for kids in the K-2 grade range, so I was quite happy to see this one. (Others out there include series like and That’s Nat, Meghan Rose, Cul-de-sac Kids, and Circle C Beginnings.)

What I Dislike: Although the writing was entertaining, there were a few spots where the character’s point of view changed abruptly. While I liked the father, one scene early on in the book seemed out of character for his otherwise serene and trusting manner: In an intimidating way, he grabs up Allister by the scruff of his neck. Allister is also somewhat disrespectful (lying numerous times, sticking out his tongue, and disobeying his parents). Finally, when discussing the Thanksgiving holiday, a classroom student uses the word “Injun”. Although I’m sure the author didn’t intend it to be so, I found the terminology offensive.

Overall Rating: Good. I think kids would like it.

Age Appeal: None given, but I suggest grades K-2 with K as a read aloud.

Publisher Info: Just Dust Publisher, 2011; ISBN:978-0983833321; Paperback, 144 pgs., $6.99.

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