Monday, September 22, 2014

More than a Mouse

Taking care of a classroom pet is a big thrill AND a big responsibility...especially when it's a mouse named Pepperoni. In Penny Reeve's story, More Than a Mouse, ten year old Tania Abbey practically bursts with excitement when it's finally her turn to bring Pepperoni home for the weekend. The only problem is, Tania's grandma is visiting at that same time, and Grandma HATES mice.

Tania is ready for the challenge though. When the big day comes, it seems being charge of Pepperoni is all Tania can think about... that is, until tragedy strikes her younger brother Daniel. On the siblings' way home from school, Daniel is slammed into by a hit-and-run driver, destroying his bike and sending him flying. The unconscious boy is rushed to the emergency room at the hospital, while Tania relives the horrifying images embedded in her head over and over again.

The mouse, now all but forgotten, takes backstage to the drama surrounding Daniel. Tania prays for him with all her might, and struggles when it doesn't seem like God hears her prayers. Tania's parents try to put on a brave face, but Tania can tell it's hard for them to surrender their fears for his life.

As the story continues, Tania's preoccupation with Daniel leads to another problem. She discovers that the neglected pet escaped just minutes before Grandma is due to arrive at the front door. After a frantic search and somewhat comic recapture, things are set right again.

Through all this, Tania learns that there are bigger, more important things to life than a mouse. She also realizes that in some cases, there is little she can do except trust in God and pray. Not only that, but she comes to appreciate the community of prayer warriors. In an epilogue, we see a girl named Shanti looking at a photograph of Tania and Daniel. When she notices the cast on Daniel's leg, she asks if he is the one they had been praying for. It serves as a good reminder that as we pray for others, we are likewise blessed when they pray for us.

We also understand another lesson: God is able to bring good out of any situation, even when we don't understand or have trouble grasping the bigger picture... the things that are more than a mouse.

What I Like: The story is gentle and simple in plot, but well written. I also appreciate how we see a practical application of faith in everyday situations. Tania often prays, which is a good role model for readers.

What I Dislike: There were some references to characters from an earlier book in the series. I was confused at first until I figured out that was the case. I wish either a book summary or more details were provided about them.

Also, this is not a dislike, just something I noted. Little mention is made about the hit-and-run driver. The person turns himself in to the police, and that's all we know about it. I half expected to see this person show up at the hospital or something along those lines, followed with an opportunity for the family to show God's grace toward him. I didn't feel like I got closure on that aspect of the story.

Overall Rating: Very Good

Age Appeal: None is suggested, but I recommend 8-12 years.

Publisher Info: HyalineHouse, 2013; ISBN: 978-0987300300; Paperback, 79 pgs., $12.95
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Buy it at for $12.95

Special Info: Read other CCBR reviews of books by Penny Reeve. Check out other books in the Tania Abbey Adventure series:  The Back Leg of a Goat and Water or Goo. Here is a CCBR review of her book Himalayan Adventure. See picture books for younger kids by Penny Reeve, including God Made Something Strong, God Made Something Beautiful, God Made Something Enormous, and God Made Something Clever.

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