I’ll fess up now, I bought this purely because it was on The Rory Gilmore Challenge, not because I had any inclination to read it. I picked it up from the hidden depths of a bargain bucket, forking out a whopping 10p to pay for it. I’d say that’s a pretty good deal! Even though E.B. White has long been considered a prestigious children’s author and I remembered enjoying the Stuart Little films when I was younger, I didn’t have high expectations. So, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it! That’s the great thing about this challenge, it makes me pick up books I never would have considered reading otherwise. 🙂
He’s one small mouse on one very big adventure.
Stuart Little is no ordinary mouse. Born to a family of humans, he lives in New York City with his parents, his older brother, George, and Snowbell the cat. Though he’s shy and thoughtful, he’s also a true lover of adventure.
When his best friend, a beautiful little bird named Margalo, disappears from her nest, Stuart is determined to track her down. He ventures away from home for the very first time in his life and finds adventure aplenty, but will he find his friend?
Stuart Little has all the elements needed for a great children’s book, there are an array of cute and fuzzy animals (mice, cats, birds), daring adventures with an element of danger (such as trips down the drain and rides in the garbage truck), positive morals weaved throughout and a heartfelt friendship between two characters that gives you something to root for. Each chapter brings a new adventure or challenge for Stuart to overcome so that the story never gets boring. I was surprised to find myself becoming more and more invested in the book as it went along and I’m glad that as an adult, I was still able to enjoy it.
I liked how well thought out the practicalities were of having a mouse in the family and it was probably my favourite element of the story. Stuart’s parents had to constantly be aware of not stepping on Stuart or shutting him into places he couldn’t get out of, and regularly worried that Stuart might one day feel the desire to run off into a mouse hole and never come back. To help him enjoy everything the human life has to offer they come up with all sorts of inventive ideas like creating rope ladders to the sink so he can do his teeth, ice skates made out of paperclips and a bed made out of four clothes pins and a cigarette box. I found it entertaining and sweet that his parents put in so much effort and love into making their house accessible for a mouse. And Stuart has his uses in return, such as helping his family get to small places they can’t reach.
E.B. White’s writing in this novel is naturally, simple and straight to the point due to its intended demographic. His style is matter of fact and at times I found his transitions from one paragraph to another quite awkward, especially when there was a lack of synonyms. However, his writing could also be quaint and sweet and that’s when I felt myself warming to this novel. It’s a short book at only 131 pages, the font is large and there are fun illustrations on most of the pages so I think it would make an ideal bed time story for a young child. It could easily be read over the space of three evenings for half an hour at a time, making it long enough for the reader/listener to become fully immersed in the story but not so long that they would become bored. However, I was slightly disappointed by the ending. The book just seemed to stop without resolving the main plot point. Confused, I flicked though the last few pages again, sure that I had missed something or that my copy must have been missing some pages. I even checked on the internet to see if there was a sequel but no, E.B. White has left me hanging! I think his intention was to leave the story on a positive note and allow the reader to make up their own mind about the ending, but I must admit I didn’t find it very satisfying so I dropped an extra star in my rating.
All the characters in this novel are sweet or endearing in some way, even though most of them receive little page time. Stuart’s mother is severely over protective, going to the lengths of removing derogatory references to mice in children’s nursery rhymes. Stuart’s father is always asking enthusiastically about his son’s adventures since his busy city job doesn’t allow him the time to see many interesting places, and Snowbell, the ever watchful house cat makes funny complaints about having to share his house with animals he would normally chase around the garden.
When it comes to the mouse himself, the author uses anthropomorphism so that he has the attributes and characteristics of a human which makes him a much more entertaining character. He reads as a rather posh mouse which I found quite funny, he could easily fit into a Dickens novel without anyone batting an eyelid. He’s naturally a fun protagonist because of all his adventures, however, I did also feel he was a bit rude and snarky in some places!
This was a quick, fun read. While there are no insightful quotes which are often found in children’s classics, the fun factor more than makes up for it and I’m glad I read it. I would recommend this book for children aged 4-7 but hey, if there’s some adult out there who fancies giving it a go, I’m not going to judge you. 😉
Writing Style: 2/5
Character Development: 3/5
Would I recommend this book? Yes.