A Mischief of Mice

Illustrations by Beatrix Potter

Lady Mouse in Mop Cap by Beatrix Potter

The Cat and the Mouse by John B. Gruelle

"The mouse ne'er shunn'd the cat as they did budge
From rascals worse than they."  - William Shakespeare (Coriolanus)

Belling the Cat by Milo Winter

“Mice are terribly chatty. They will chat about anything, and if there is nothing to chat about, they will chat about having nothing to chat about. Compared to mice, robins are reserved.”  - Robin McKinley (Spindle's End)

Thumbelina and City Mouse, Country Mouse by Milo Winter

Brambly Hedge Mouse by Jill Barklem

A decoration from The Robber Bridegroom by HJ Owen

The Robber Bridegroom by HJ Owen

The Robber Bridegroom by HJ Owen

Illustrations by HJ Owen and Charles Folkard

Three Blind Mice by Walton Corbould

Illustrations by Igo Oleinikov and Jan Brett

A page detail from Town Mouse, Country Mouse by Jan Brett

Mousekin by Edna MillerWhere has he gone, my meadow mouse,
My thumb of a child that nuzzled in my palm? --
To run under the hawk's wing,
Under the eye of the great owl watching from the elm-tree,
To live by courtesy of the shrike, the snake, the tom-cat.

- Theodore Roethke (from "The Meadow Mouse")

Thumbelina by Lisbeth Zwerger

Sketch for Thumbelina by Lisbeth Zwerger

Washed in the River

Stuart Little by Garth WilliamsOf course the woman with the mouse-child was famous,
as grace is famous
a rarity
at the end of suffering. She kept him in
a nest in the dry bathtub
and washed in the river.

And though only children were meant
to believe this, I still believe this.
The fate of the body
is to confound

itself with everything. That's why
Mouse by HS Owenin another tale, the fair sister
opened her mouth and spoke

and the plain sister, vipers and toads.
Meanwhile the mother

of the gray thing
bathed him in a teacup.
Plucked him out and let him
run along the shore

to the window. Where both of them
were struck with longing —
he behind the great glass,
she behind the gray boy.

The second you see yourself in the suffering
the story's over.

- Beckian Fritz Goldberg

The Mouse Child by T Windling

The Tale of Despereaux

The art above: Five illustrations by Beatrix Potter (from The Tailor of Gloucester and Two Bad Mice); "The Cat and the Mouse" by Johnny B. Gruelle; "Belling the Cat" and "Thumbelina" by Milo Winter -- the latter picture paired with "CIty Mouse, Country Mouse" by Charles Folkard; an illustration from the Brambly Hedge series by Jill Barklem; a decoration and two full-page illustrations from "The Robber Bridgegroom"  (a Grimms fairy tale delightfully but inexplicably illustrated with pictures of mice and frogs in Japanese clothing) by HJ Owen [misprinted on the book's cover as HS Owen], published in 1922; a detail from a "Robber Bridegroom" painting by HJ Owen paired with "Three Blind Mice" by Charles Folkard;  "Three Blind Mice" by Walton Corbould; fairy tale mice by Igor Oleinikov; two illustrations from "Town Mouse Country Mouse" by Jan Brett; "Mousekin" by Edna Miller; a full painting and a small sketch/study for "Thumbelina" by Lisbeth Zwerger; a drawing of E.B. White's "Stuart Little" by Garth Williams; a mouse drawing by H.S. Owen; a painting of mine called "The Mouse Child," and an image from the animated film "The Tale of Desperaux," based on the charming book by Kate DiCamillo. Below is another Brambly Hedge illustration by Jill Barklem

For a delightful response to Robert Burns' poem "To a Mouse," see "From a Mouse," by the contemporary Scottish poet Liz Lochhead.

Brambly Hedge Mouse Family by Jill Barklem

The Mouse in the House

Miss Mouse by Beatrix Potter

Although Trick-or-Treating for Halloween is really an American tradition, many English children have adopted it now, including the children here in Chagford. My former cottage, where I lived for 18 years, was located down a pedestrian lane at the center of the village, so many Trick-or-Treaters found their way to Miss Mouse in her knock-about clothes, at a friend's house outside Chagfordmy door. But I was never home on Halloween. Instead, a bashful mouse would greet them, with a shy little flick of her long pink tail, standing in the candle-lit doorway of that fairy-tale cottage with its roof of thatch.

The photograph to the right is my only picture of the elusive mouse of Weaver's Cottage. She's wearing her everyday clothes, but she always dressed elegantly for Halloween in a long brown velvet dress. She was known to children of the village as Miss Mouse, and she lived (I explained to them) in my cottage walls all the rest of the year.

These days, in my married life, I live on the outer edge of the village, and only a few intrepid youngsters climb the shadowy, overgrown path to our door on Halloween. Now it's only Tilly, Howard, and I who greet them, for Miss Mouse has long since disappeared; she was last seen, clutching a little mouse-sized suitcase, on the day that I moved from Weaver's Cottage.

A generation of Chagford children grew up with Miss Mouse. (Some even brought her presents of cheese.) I know that they'll carry that memory...and I know that she's still missed. Wherever you are Miss Mouse, stay warm and cozy, and have a good Halloween.

Miss Mouse

Weaver's Cottage At the doorway of Weaver's Cottage