Review Blog

Nov 15 2012

Mouse mansion: Sam and Julia by Karina Schaapman

cover image

Allen and Unwin, 2012. ISBN 9781 74331299 5
(Age: 5+) Picture book. The reader is introduced to the home of the two mice, Sam and Julia as they live in a mansion of the author's making. The mice are quite different, Julia lives on the sixth floor with her mother in a tiny apartment while Sam lives in the middle of the mansion with an array of family, including aunts, uncles and grandparents. Where Sam is shy and obedient, Julia is boisterous and nosy, so the two play together well. They find a hiding place beneath the stairs and there spend many hours with each other in their cubby. In the apartment house lives many other people and we are introduced to the neighbours as the story proceeds.
While the story is somewhat slow, the background to the story is marvellous. Each page is a treasure trove of little things to look at, seek out and identify. Children will marvel at the creation of these things which make up the lives of the two mice, and be intrigued about how they were produced. Each page is a myriad of small made objects, drawing the eye into the picture and begging the reader to think about how each thing is made with recycled materials. The ingenuity is staggering, particularly when more information can be found about how it was built using the web. One website shows the mansion on display in a window in The Netherlands and is well worth sharing with a class.
http://nestproject.wordpress.com/2011/12/17/the-nest-of-the-mouse-mansion-het-muizenhuis/
The images shown will be quite a draw card to share with the class when reading the book, and entice them to try and replicate some of the flats and their contents for themselves.
Fran Knight

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