Mary the mouse is truly devoted to her husband, Zelinsky. When he disappears and she is asked to replace him as the mouse community’s art thief, she hesitates. Who will take care of her children if something happens to her? Her daughters’ encouragement and the inspiration of her idol, Stuart Little, compel Mary to take on the job. Fortunately, a big-hearted orphan in the house where the mice live is nearby when Mary is nearly caught by the resident cat. Who would have thought that a human could be so kind?
Caro is indeed kind. All of the children at The Cherry Street Home for orphans love her and no longer notice her hand, disfigured from severe burns. She looks out for the other children and is always willing to help. Mrs. George, the home’s administrator, even entrusts Caro with the responsibility of caring for the abandoned newborn baby whom the police bring to the home. Caro is a bright girl, however, and realizes that Mrs. George’s story about the baby’s origin simply does not add up. When Caro and her fellow orphan Jimmy probe into the matter, they uncover some unsavory truths about Mrs. George. Fortunately, Caro’s rodent friends are on hand to help.
The Orphan and the Mouse has two plots that converge to create great suspense and a satisfying ending that neither the book cover nor its title indicates. Caro and Mary each have their challenges and learn to communicate despite language barriers. While younger readers may find the author’s writing style accessible, certain aspects of the story may be disturbing for them, specifically Mrs. George’s cruel but subtle manipulation of Caro and the issue of the kidnapping and selling of babies.
A former teacher, Jennifer Minicus is a full-time wife and mother living in Ridgewood, NJ.