Mouse Mansion: Sam and Julia at the Circus by Karina Schaapman

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Allen & Unwin, 2014. ISBN 9781760112028
(Age: 5+) Highly recommended. Karina Schaapman's Sam & Julia stories are photographed inside the real-life Mouse Mansion. She created over one hundred, amazingly detailed rooms from orange boxes, recycled materials and vintage fabrics. Her inspiration came from the experiences and everyday happenings of her four (now adult) children.
Julia and Sam are the young mice who live in this amazing place. Julia is curious and stubborn, a girl mouse who wants to take on the world and her friend  Sam is quiet and shy, their special friendship takes them on adventures. The circus is in town and Julia encourages her mother to apply for the job of cook and seamstress. All of the neighbours appear to wave goodbye to Julia and her mother as they leave for their summer adventure with Circus Roberti. Exchanging letters, both friends keep in touch Sam is staying at Ella's, sleeping in the triple bunk bed and helping with the triplets. Julia's life is filled with circus tales and characters, Enrico the Clown, the mini-elephant and helping the escapologist with his act.
What a delight it is to turn the page and discover another creatively photographed space, brimful of treasures, lovingly gathered and crafted - button wheels, necklace chain railings and hand sewn characters. Mouse Mansion picture books are wonderful gifts, something to visit again and again, they stimulate creativity and imagination. Why not create a mouse house as a holiday activity?
Highly recommended for readers from 5 years and for families to share.
Rhyllis Bignell