The Sisters Saint-Claire and the Royal Mouse Ball by Carlie Gibson
Ill. by Tamsin Ainslie. Allen & Unwin, 2018. ISBN 9781760523640
(Ages: 5-8) Themes: Appearances. Clothing. Fashion. Friendship. Rhyming stories. This is a beautifully illustrated follow-up to The Sisters Saint-Claire. It is the tale of five mice sisters who live with their mum and dad in a humble dwelling in France. We are introduced to each of the sisters in turn: Harriet loves shopping for second-hand clothing gems, Violet loves everything Parisian, Beatrice has a thing for shoes and is good at getting a bargain, Minette saves all her money until she has enough for something special, and little Cecile turns all the hand-me-downs into fashionable outfits. When the family are invited to the Royal Mouse Ball the sisters are in disarray; yes, they love their outfits, but they are simply not good enough to be seen by the Queen! The Saint-Claires are not the only ones who turn down the invitation - the only one going to the ball is the Queen! When the Queen visits the Saint-Claire household to change their minds they come up with a way to get everyone to the ball and along the way they realise that though they may not have riches and jewels their lives are filled with treasure. The story ends with the Queen speaking to the mice at the party: 'I live in a palace and wear a fine crown. I glisten and sparkle in each evening gown. I sit at a table where food never ends. But it all feels rather dull without friends. I welcome you all to my home with such pleasure. You shine so much brighter than all of its treasure'.
This is a heart-warming story for slightly older children, particularly girls and those into fashion and craft. In the back of the book are instructions to make Sisters Saint-Claire finger puppets. It might even inspire some young ones to have a go at making their own clothing from scraps of material and other bits and pieces.