64. The Umbrella Mouse by Anna Fargher

Last weekend I went to see my Granny for lunch with both my parents. Afterwards we went to the bookshop where I picked up six books. I managed to sneak past both my parents but as I was making my way to the till, my Granny spotted me and called out in a shocked/chastising manner ‘Hannah!’ to which the other occupants in the shop all turned to look at me and by the time I’d made my way to the till, the lady behind it was giggling and I was embarrassed. Of the six books I bought, only four were impulse buys (so really I didn’t do that badly.) This was one of my impulse buys.

Synopsis (as taken from Amazon) is as follows:

1944, and London is under attack. Young mouse Pip Hanway’s safe and quiet world is turned upside down when her home, umbrella shop James Smith & Sons, is destroyed by a bomb. Orphaned and alone, she must begin a perilous quest to find a new home.

But the only way to get there is by joining Noah’s Ark, a secret gang of animals fighting with the resistance in France, operating beneath the feet of the human soldiers. Danger is everywhere and as the enemy closes in, Pip must risk everything to save her new friends.

Ability to read – This is a 9-12 book and I didn’t have any difficulty in reading it. I actually sat down and read this in 2 hours – it was just that compelling that I had to read it all in one go. I thought that there was a good blend of adventure and fact and combined presents a new way to get young people to understand more of WWII. I got the book just after D-Day and for me it was an inspirational read and something that I wanted to read more of. I don’t know whether there will be a sequel to this book or whether it was a one off but I would like to see more of Pip’s adventures.

Characterisation – Pip was one of those characters that grows with the book. In the beginning I had my doubts as to whether she would actually make it to the end. For all her curiosity, she didn’t have a lot of common sense and it was thrilling to see her begin to understand the world around her and how to navigate through it. Watching as her determination and stubbornness furthered her own mission was exciting and she went from a timid mouse to a heroic mouse through the course of the book, which was a compelling part for me as I was reading.

Visualisation – It was easier for me to envision what was happening in this book with the animals than I think it would have been if the characters were human. I understood the topics within the book but the animal character’s pushed some of the darker feelings away and employed more adventure and comradeship, through the dark war setting. I could see clearly what was happening at every point of the book and though I hadn’t necessarily been to some of the places mentioned I had knowledge of them. It was easy for me to visualise all the characters and how they might look or act, even without knowing what animals they were, I would have been able to distinguish between them and recognise each voice from another.

Uniqueness – The uniqueness is in the name. I knew when I picked this book up that I wanted to read it. I knew it would have a compelling story inside that would take me on an adventure and that I might learn something along the way. It seemed more poignant to me that I read this in the days after the 75th anniversary of D-Day, it somehow made what I was reading seem more important. The Umbrella Mouse was an exceptional read and is currently one of my top reads from June 2019. If you haven’t read it, I recommend that you do because you won’t be disappointed!

Hannah xoxo

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