There was once a mousewife who was different than her husband. "I think about Cheese. Why don't you think about cheese?" he asked her. But the mousewife would look at the world beyond the windowpanes as the seasons changed, and would think about the world that seemed so far away. Then, one day, a turtledove arrived. He would not eat, but told the mousewife of dew, wind, wet, and weather. With her little children to think of, food to get (for her husbandmouse's digestion kept him from finding food, though never from visiting friends), she cherishes her time with the dove, but sees that a cage would never do for one made to fly. Hardcover.
Day in and day out the dutiful mousewife works alongside her mousehusband in the house of Miss Barbara Wilkinson. It is a nice house and the mousewife is for the most part happy collecting crumbs and preparing a nest for her future mouse-babies—yet she yearns for something more. But what? Her husband, for one, can’t imagine. “I think about cheese,” he advises her. “Why don’t you think about cheese?”
Then an odd and exotic new creature, a turtledove, is brought into the house and placed in a gilded cage. A friendship develops as the dove tells the mousewife about things no house mouse has ever imagined, blue skies, tumbling clouds, tall trees, and far horizons, the memory of which haunt the dove in her captivity. The dove’s tales fill the mousewife with wonder and inspire her to take daring action.
Rumer Godden’s lovely fable about unexpected friendship and bittersweet love was inspired by a story Dorothy Wordsworth wrote for her brother, William, and is accompanied by stunning pen-and-ink drawings by William Pène du Bois.
Rumer Godden (1907–1998) grew up in India, where her father ran a steamship company. When her husband left her penniless in Calcutta with two daughters to raise, she started to write books to pay off her many debts. She wrote more than sixty books for adults and young adults, including The Doll’s House, Impunity Jane, The Greengage Summer, and An Episode of Sparrows (also published by The New York Review Children’s Collection).
William Pène du Bois (1916–1993) was born in New Jersey to a family of artists and educated mostly in France. A founding editor of The Paris Review, Pène du Bois wrote some twenty-five books, many of which he also illustrated, including The Twenty-One Balloons, winner of the 1948 Newbery Medal.
"Rumer Godden's The Mousewife, first illustrated in 1951 and reissued by The New York Review Children's Collection, is a gentle fable of liberation that the prolific British novelist and biographer, who died in 1998, wrote after escaping a loveless first marriage...Disarmingly illustrated by William Pene du Bois, this little book makes a case for empathy and daring: Why creep when you can fly?" --O, The Oprah Magazine
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