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Mouse Guard in Softcover! - The Holidays Are Coming!! Hint Hint.
Review by Scott Tingley, November 19, 2008

So what do you give kids to read after they have devoured the Bone graphic novel series? Well, in my experience, you just give it back to them so they can read it a couple more times.

But what then?

There are lots of choices, and every kid has different preferences, but very high on the list is David Petersen's Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 . It started as a six issue mini series in 2006 and since it has become one of the most talked about series for young readers. It won the 2007 Russ Manning Most Promising Newcomer Award and this year it and the new series (Winter 1152) won two Eisner Awards (think the Oscars for comics):

-Best Publication for Kids (Fall 1152 & Winter 1152)

-Best Graphic Album - Reprint (Fall 1152 Hardcover)

The mice struggle to live safely and prosper among all of the world's harsh conditions and predators. Thus the Mouse Guard was formed. After persevering against a weasel warlord in the winter war of 1149, the territories are no longer as troubled. True, the day to day dangers exist, but no longer are the Guard soldiers, instead they are escorts, pathfinders, weather watchers, scouts and body guards for the mice who live among the territories. Many skills are necessary for the guard to keep the borders safe. They must find new safeways and paths from village to village, lead shipments of goods from one town to another and, in case of attack, guard against all evil and harm to their territories. 

'Hail all those who are able, any mouse can, any mouse will, but the Guard prevail'
(from DavidPetersen.net)

This is a series I have glowed about since the first issue two and a half years ago, and now that I have seen kid's reaction to these mice I felt I should remind everyone out there about what they may be missing. I added the hardcover (collecting the six issue series) to my grade 3 class' comic library, and after they worked through Bone volumes 1-4 (those are the ones most appropriate for kids that young - the rest of the Bone series gets darker with each volume, a bit like the Harry Potter books) many of the ones interested in comics moved on to Mouse Guard. It was also one of the first things picked when the Bone book they wanted was already signed out.

The art is beautiful - cute and full of deadly action. I have talked to kids that have read the book (my students and others) and they understand pretty quickly that although the mice might look cute at first, this is not a cute story. This is a dark story that will appeal to both girls and boys (and men and women). It may be too dark for an average grade three class, so teachers may want to restrict it to older elementary kids - lots or Lord of the Rings meets Animal Planet type action. On the other hand, I plan on sharing this book with my own kids when they hit about that age.

There is a new softcover edition out from Random House / Villiard priced at $17.95 us / $22.00 Can ( ISBN : 978-0-345-49686-7 (0-345-49686-8)). There is a lot to this book, and it is a book you and the young readers in your life (and the older readers) will return to again and again. If Scholastic ever makes this available through their book clubs like they have Bone, I think Mouse Guard could be the other Graphic novel every kid seems to know about.



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