Book review: Hermelin: The Detective Mouse and other animal crackers from Random House

A menagerie of very special creatures are the stars of a sparkling spring collection from top children’s books publisher Random House.

By Pam Norfolk
Thursday, 20th March 2014, 9:00 am
Hermelin: The Detective Mouse and other animal crackers from Random House
Hermelin: The Detective Mouse and other animal crackers from Random House

There’s a mouse on the trail of a puzzling mystery, an exciting new anthology of cat and dog stories, the adventures of a daredevil duck and a spider with a web of wonderful puzzles.

Age 5 plus:

Hermelin: The Detective Mouse by Mini Grey

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Meet Hermelin, the Hercule Poirot of the rodent world who likes nothing better than to get his sharp teeth into a good mystery.

Hermelin, a quirky new hero for all budding young detectives, is the creative creature creation of the award-winning author and illustrator Mini Grey.

Hermelin is a noticer. He is also a finder. The occupants of Offley Street are delighted when their missing items are found, but not so happy to learn that their brilliant detective is actually a mouse! So what will happen to the very talented ‘supermouse’ Hermelin? Are his prodigious talents destined to go unrewarded? And will he ever find a friend to help him?

Grey’s heart-warming caper contains moments of genuine pathos as our little furry friend discovers the bald truth that as a mouse, he is considered to be a ‘pest.’ Fortunately, his wonderfully funny adventure is also about true friends coming together against the odds.

Grey’s exquisite artwork is filled with witty details and delightful clues which will amuse and entertain young children.

When Hermelin is on the case, you are only a whisker away from laughter and tears…

(Jonathan Cape, hardback, £11.99)

Age 7 plus:

Paws and Whiskers by Jacqueline Wilson

Prolific children’s author Jacqueline Wilson has longed to have a pet since the days when she grew up in a council flat where they were strictly forbidden.

Now the proud owner of two cats from the wonderful Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in London, she is eager to get in on the animal act… and help the animal rescue centre at the same time.

So here is her answer… a special anthology featuring the very best stories about cats and dogs from the big, wide world of children’s literature.

As well as extracts from treasured classics such as The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith and Gobbolino the Witch’s Cat by Ursula Moray Williams, there are selections from favourite authors like Enid Blyton and modern writers such as Anne Fine and Patrick Ness.

A brand new story by Wilson herself called Leonie’s Pet Cat introduces us to a girl who doesn’t want to start her new school. Making friends is so hard… until she discovers the Pet Girls Club. Leonie is desperate to join but unfortunately she doesn’t have a pet. Perhaps the answer lies in using her imagination…

Children can also enjoy personal pieces from many authors about their own treasured pets, with contributions from Michael Morpurgo, Philip Pullman, Malorie Blackman and many more.

From the elegant cat who loves the ballet and the little witch’s kitten who doesn’t want to be bad to the poodle who needs a haircut and the most famous spotty dogs of all, this is a book of animal magic to treasure, share and keep forever.

And for every copy sold, a significant donation will be made to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.

(Doubleday, hardback, £12.99)

Age 2 plus:

Woolly and Tig: My Wipe-Clean Activity Book

Keep little hands and minds busy with this must-have activity book featuring the adorable stars of the smash hit CBeebies show which had over 10 million iPlayer hits for its first series.

Pre-schoolers can use a special pen to join in all the fun with Tig and her cuddly toy spider Woolly as they journey through a maze of puzzles, activities and drawing exercises. And the brilliant wipe-clean pages mean that they can play the games time and time again.

There are hours of entertainment here with puzzles which include joining the dots, counting, matching pictures or just doing your own thing.

Woolly and Tig are reassuring characters whose adventures explore the feelings of pre-school children when faced with new experiences, teaching them to make their own decisions and use their own initiative. A practical and educational activity book with a special brand of child appeal.

(Bantam, paperback, £3.99)

Do Dare Duck by Joyce Dunbar and Jane Massey

Toddlers are guaranteed to go quackers when they open up this magical picture book featuring the daffiest, most adorable duck this side of the pond…

Joyce Dunbar’s repetitive and beautifully rhythmic story is brought to glorious life by the sparkling and seductively eye-catching illustrations of Jane Massey.

Will Duck get in a flap as he studies what all the other creatures do so well? Does he dance like the pig, dazzle as much as the peacock, can he dawdle like the tortoise or dash like the hare? The answer is definitely no, so what does Duck do best? Perhaps the duck does something extraordinary. What will he dare to do?

This lovely, lively, funny story will set young imaginations soaring… like a duck in full flight!

(Jonathan Cape, paperback, £6.99)