Book Review: Horatio Squeak, by Karen Foxlee

A picture book for ages 3 and up, of a classic hero story about being brave and the difference one small voice can make.

By
A lovely rhyming book about a small mouse who learns that size doesn’t matter.
Overall
4

Karen Foxlee, an Australian author from Queensland, has moved away from writing successful young adult and middle-grade fiction novels, and delved into the world of picture books. She has had huge success with The Anatomy of Wings, Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy and more recently the fabulous Lenny’s Book of Everything, and has now written Horatio Squeak.

Horatio Squeak is a delightful rhyming book about a small mouse who lives in a very fine house. Horatio is always polite but very very shy. Foxlee has expertly used rhymes to describe this little mouse so that we immediately have an affinity for him. He wears mismatched socks, glasses and speaks in a whisper. He is the youngest in a family of mice and has received an invitation to his very first party. Because he is so small and very timid, he is not sure he has the courage to attend all by himself. His mum is encouraging and wants him to try to be brave. Just getting through the very large house to arrive at the party is very daunting.

Horatio Squeak is a story about being brave and trying new things. Many young children find it difficult to leave the safety of their significant adult/s. It also has a surprise message at the end. We need to stand up for what is right. If we see someone being bullied or in trouble, we can try to do something to help. We don’t have to be tall to feel tall.

The illustrations by Evie Barrow are detailed and show humour in that detail. For example, three of his brothers and sisters are wearing dark glasses and have sticks:  a quiet nod to three blind mice. The illustration of each mouse shows their own personality, and mother mouse exudes compassion and love. Each picture of Horatio throughout the book clearly shows his changing emotions.

This is a lovely book for the younger child/reader. It is also perfect for use in a junior primary classroom as it deals with common themes that all young children deal with. It is about making new friends, being brave and leaving a parent, and doing the right thing – all themes teachers spend a lot of time on.

Parents and grandparents alike will also love to read this book to the younger child, and be assured there is plenty to discuss with the beautiful text and illustrations.

Reviewed by Sue Mauger

Distributed by: Walker Books Australia
Released: July 2019
RRP: $27.99

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