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by Lois Lowry and illustrated by Eric Rohmann

Pub Date: March 21st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-547-39009-3
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Hildegarde, practical and religious leader of all 219 church mice residing in St. Bartholemew’s, may be an “old lady,” but she handles threats with aplomb. “[I]ncessant reproduction” and energetic activity lead to exposure of their hidden existence. Fearing an annihilating Great X, Hildegarde and her helpers nibble away the phone book’s “x” page so the priest can’t make the appointment; when this fails (because Extermination actually starts with “e”), Hildegarde savvily charges 52 mice to each cover a deadly Glue Board with a playing card from Father Murphy’s solitaire deck. Then St. Francis’ feast day arrives, when cats are welcome (yikes). Sending her flock into hiding, Hildegarde boldly adorns herself in a gumdrop hat and walks majestically down the church aisle—in plain sight—during the pet blessings, leaving Father Murphy no choice but to tenderly bless this mouse. Like the young readers of this book, the mice glide unbothered and uncomprehending past the occasional mature reference (Alcoholics Anonymous and “X-rated DVDs,” mentioned without illumination), though they do understand Lowry’s specialized, high-level vocabulary (alb, chasuble, sacrosanct—they are church mice, after all). This gently Christian piece with Rohmann’s earnest pencil illustrations will please talking-animal fans. (Animal fantasy. 7-10)