Hermelin the Detective Mouse by Mini Grey (Jonathan Cape, 2014) was one of fils cadet‘s birthday present books. Initially greeted with excitement it was then cast aside because he decided it didn’t sound good. But after a little chat about not judging books by their covers, or indeed their titles, he agreed to let me read it to him… and then immediately demanded we read it again the moment we finished!
Hermelin is a mouse with unusual abilities – he can read and type, and write too, although his paws find a pencil hard to manage. Put together with his observational skills, these talents enable him to solve a spate of mysteries, reuniting the people of Offley Street with their lost property and saving the life of Baby McMumbo along the way. But when the people of Offley Street decide to throw a party to celebrate the efforts of their unknown hero, neither they nor Hermelin get quite what they bargained for. Screams of “Mouse!” send poor Hermelin off to a reference book where he learns that mice are dirty, disease-spreading pests. Sadly, he resolves to leave Offley Street forever. But fortunately, the journalist with whom Hermelin shares no. 33 is just as observant as he is, she tracks him down and they decide to open a detective agency together.
Fils cadet got quite indignant on Hermelin’s behalf and was very pleased with the happy ending. So as well as books/covers, he’s learnt not to be prejudiced about mice – and hopefully picked up the message about giving people a second chance when they’re not quite what you expect either.
As with Mini Grey’s Traction Man books, the story is told in comic book style with a huge amount of detail in the artwork and plenty more clues for the reader to pick up on. Examples can be seen on the author’s website here. It really is a beautiful book – good to look at, to read and to hone your observational skills all in one. Highly recommended.