fiction favorites…Tumtum and Nutmeg

Tumtum & Nutmeg: Adventures Beyond Nutmouse Hall, by Emily Bearn, with pictures by Nick Price

Once there were two married mice called Mr. and Mrs. Nutmouse, and they lived in great style.  They had a big, rambling house with a ballroom, and a billiards room, and a banqueting room, and a butler’s pantry, and just about every other sort of room a married couple might want. (There were thirty-six rooms in all.)
The house was called Nutmouse Hall, and it was situated in the broom cupboard of a small human dwelling called Rose Cottage.  A broom cupboard might not sound like a very grand place for a house, but this broom cupboard was special.  It had creamy white walls, mottled red tiles on the floor, and a tiny sash window hidden behind a curtain of honeysuckle…
Mr. Nutmouse spent most of the time in his library, warming his toes in front of the fire, and Mrs. Nutmouse spent most of her time scurrying about in her kitchen, making delicious things to eat…
Rose Cottage was owned by Mr. Mildew, a widower who lived there with his two children, Arthur and Lucy.  They were very poor, and they did not have nearly so many rooms as the Nutmouses had…Had the Nutmouses been different, they might have turned up their noses at the Mildews and felt quite superior and haughty…As a matter of fact, they felt rather uncomfortable.  They were kindhearted mice, and they did not think it right that they should be eating sumptuous meals in a warm house while the Mildew children ate horrid gloop out of cans in their icy kitchen.
The Nutmouses had been concerned about Arthur and Lucy for some time…and there comes a point at which a concern grows so big that something has to be done about it.

Tumtum (Mr. Nutmouse) and Nutmeg (Mrs. Nutmouse) are really such homebodies, loving nothing better than to indulge in a warm slice of gingerbread and a cup of tea in their cozy drawing room.  Their charitable hearts, however, draw them out of their charming haven to brighten up the lives of Lucy and Arthur, and in so doing, they launch themselves into numerous nail-biting adventures!

This book contains three separate stories in one volume.  In the first, Tumtum and Nutmeg begin their secretive nighttime work, darning socks, decorating the dollhouse, and generally patching up troubles for the Mildew children.  Things get dicey, however, when nasty Aunt Ivy comes to stay, with every intention of trapping and disposing of the mice.  How can Tumtum and Nutmeg escape her wiles, and drive Aunt Ivy away?

In the second adventure, “The Great Escape,” Tumtum and Nutmeg are visited by General Marchmouse, an excessively bold mouse who thrives on risk.  Unfortunately, the General is caught by the children, taken to school in a biscuit tin, and locked in a cage full of gerbils.  A daring rescue plan must be launched and it is up to Tumtum and Nutmeg to do it!  The third adventure, “The Pirates’ Treasure,”  involves camping, shipwreck, pirate rats, and a clever message in a bottle.

These are charming tales, full of picnic hampers and pluck, perfectly pitched for the 5-10-year-old crowd.  The vocabulary is advanced enough that these will require a very steady reader, or can nicely work as a read-aloud.    The pen-and-ink illustrations feature adorable mice, without becoming saccharinely cute.  Definitely British, so take them with tea and scones and then reach for the second plump volume, “The Rose Cottage Tales,” featuring episodes at Christmas, the seaside, and the circus.  Jolly fun!

Here’s the Amazon link:  Tumtum & Nutmeg: Adventures Beyond Nutmouse Hall