Fils Cadet has a new favourite book, one that we’ve read nearly every night for the last fortnight, so it’s just as well everyone else likes it too!
A Place to Call Home by Alexis Deacon and Viviane Schwarz (Walker, 2012) stars a family of mice – or so says fils cadet, they could equally be hamsters or gerbils or something, as you can see – who have to leave their nice warm, safe hole and go looking for a new place to live. They don’t feel safe out in the open, so find a variety of small holes to hide in, with, as they say, hilarious results. One brother’s hole has a hole in it, however, so he has to be the one to keep watch. On their way they have to cross the sea (a puddle), climb a mountain (a desk), cross the desert (a pile of sand), negotiate a labyrinth (a washing machine) and leap off the edge of the world (the top of the washing machine) to save their brother from a beast (a dog). They start off feeling small and scared, but when it comes to the crunch, the moment when they need to rescue their brother, they realise that given what they’ve accomplished so far, no beast is too fierce to take on. And eventually they find their way to another hole; this time it looks out onto the whole world:
And it is home. “This place looks nice!”
Text and illustrations are both perfectly pitched. The boys enjoy feeling superior by knowing the bigger picture, realising what the mice don’t. The grown-ups can appreciate the details in the illustrations, and the visual references. Viviane Schwarz is already highly revered in our household as the creator of There Are Cats in This Book and Alexis Deacon is clearly one to watch out for too. This is a charming story about moving on, tackling fears and obstacles, facing new challenges.
And it’s a lot of fun.