This was my 17th book for the YALSA Best Books reading challenge. It was also nice to read listen to this audio because it was for the younger end of the teen/tween readers. So many of the award winners for YALSA are older. And I enjoyed the change of this book being for the tween audience.
Young Fredle (rhymes with metal) is a mouse that lives on a wooden shelf behind the pantry. There are strict rules that need to be followed in order to keep all the mice safe. You must be quiet during the day. You only look for food at night. Beware of the cat. Don’t do anything out of the ordinary. But then he finds something wonderful to eat that makes him sick (chocolate) and in order to keep the family safe, he is pushed out where Mrs. can see him in the morning. In a random bit of luck Mrs. doesn’t kill Fredle or give him to Patches the cat, she just puts him outside. He doesn’t know what to do with outside. It is a lonely place full of all sorts of dangers (snakes, raccoons, raptors that fly in the sky) but also full of all sorts of beautiful things (stars, flowers, colors).
After Fredle is well again he longs to make his way back to his family and the life he knew. But he knows with each new adventure he will miss the thrill of this new world as well.
I liked Fredle. I liked how he figured out the world around him. I enjoyed learning about things like ice cream or the moon from the perspective of a creature that had no concept of it before. Fredle was smart and resourceful in figuring out how to get out of tricky situations. The audio recording was especially enjoyable. Wendy Carter narrates and she was just right. The voices that she did and the emotions that were portrayed were spot on. I could totally see taking this book on cd on a long car trip with a family who enjoy listening to stories. It isn’t too young for the tweens to laugh at the ideas that a mouse might have about the world while being good for youngsters to be able to listen to a fun story about a kitchen mouse in the big, wide world. Good book!
Book Discussion Questions:
Fredle is told that he is lucky. What was the luckiest thing that happened to Fredle? Did Fredle make his own luck?
Compare Axle from the beginning of the book to Axle at the end of the book. How did she change? Was the change good or bad? How did Fredle change?
This is a story about Fredle growing up. What was the most important thing that Fredle learned? How did that change him? How did he grow up because of what he learned?
When Fredle was escaping from the raccoons he thought of the hole in the ground as his “home” instead of the shelf behind the kitchen cupboard. Why was this thought significant?