Review Blog

Sep 29 2015

The mice and the shoemaker by Gabriel Evans

cover image

Five Mile Press, 2015. ISBN 9781760064273
(Ages: 4-8) This is a reimagined version of the classic Christmas tale The elves and the shoemaker and promotes the joy of giving rather than receiving. This is a nostalgic book - it is clearly set in the 'olden days' with clothing and house furnishings all reminiscent of a bygone era. Even the language is old-fashioned and English (As the snow fell outside they huddled around a blazing fire, sang Christmas carols, ate roasted rosehips and drank mulled mulberry juice). The tale, though retold, retains its English heritage with a wintry Christmas setting. The illustrations themselves are dull and grainy. All these things contribute to making the book look and feel 'old'. While some children may get lost within the long narrative or be dissatisfied with the illustrations (they are a very different style to most modern picture books), many will adore the magic, enchanted nature of the tale. The illustrations are wonderfully detailed and there are magnificent pop-ups and flaps that children will delight in. The story itself follows the mouse family, the Whiskers, as they move out of their flooded house and in with their Grandpa, beneath the floorboards of a shoemaker's store. To repay the shoemaker's kindness the family create the finest shoes in the land for the elderly man and his wife to sell. In return, the shoemaker and his wife make the mice new clothes and shoes. This is a heart-warming tale about rediscovering the meaning of Christmas gifts; it seems a timely reminder for a generation of children who see Christmas primarily as a time for receiving. Overall, this is a heart-warming tale that will not suit every child, but will be cherished by many.
Nicole Nelson

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