Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Mouseheart Audio

Mouseheart Audio

Lisa Fiedler
For ages 9 to 12
Unabridged audiobook (Digital)
Performed/read by: Kirby Heyborne
Simon and Schuster, 2014 

Hooper has spent his entire young life living in a pet store cage with other mice. When he was very young his mother was taken away. As she was being lifted out of the cage she told Hopper to “Find the Mews.” He has no idea what this message meant, but he has never forgotten it.

   One day a young human comes into the store and he is wearing a snake around his neck. He has come to purchase mice to feed his pet. Hopper and his siblings, Pup and Pinkie, realize for the first time that they are being raised as “feeders” and not as pets. Desperate to avoid being fed to a snake, the mice make a break for it. In the confusion Hooper and his brother and sister are separated. Hopper ends up out on the sidewalk and then he is washed down a culvert.

   When Hopper comes to after his long fall he finds himself in a huge dark place underground. What he does not know is that he is in a subway tunnel. Thankfully, before a train can flatten him, a large rat comes along and gets him out of harm’s way. After successfully hiding himself and Hopper so that they are not found by group of ferocious looing mice, the rat, Zucker of Romanus, takes Hopper to his home, which is the rat city of Atlantia. During their journey to the city Hopper sees writing on the walls of the tunnels and he also sees pictures. One of these shows the face of a mouse and what is very puzzling is that the mouse has a ring of white fur around its right eye. Hopper has a white ring around his eye too and he cannot help feeling that this image is somehow important. Underneath the image is the word “Mus,” which is the Latin word for mouse.

   When Zucker and Hopper get to Atlantia, Hopper is amazed to see how big and splendid the rat city is. Atlantia is surrounded by a high wall, the gates of which are protected by cats. Zucker’s father, who is the emperor of the rats, treats Hopper with great kindness, saying he is the “Promised One.” Hopper has no idea why he is being singled out for so much attention but he allows himself to enjoy it.

   For a while all goes well. Zucker teaches Hopper how to read and write and the mouse enjoys the comforts of life in Atlantia. Then Zucker takes Hopper to the refugee camps, which is where rodents who were lost in the tunnels are housed. Hopper has been told that the rodents living in the camps are periodically sent out in groups to colonize a place called the Hunting Grounds. He also learns that Emperor Titus has an agreement with the Queen of the Ferals, Felina. She refrains from killing the rats and in turn she and her cat subjects are given “certain mutually profitable trade considerations.”

   At the refugee camp Hopper is shown around and he is amazed when he catches sight of his brother, Pup. He is about to go to him when the camp is attacked by a band of Rangers, rebel mice who want to overthrow Titus. The leader of the mice, Firren, meets Hopper and then she makes him her prisoner and takes him to the stronghold of the Mus, a secretive group of mice who choose not to live in Atlantia. Her hope is that the Mus will be willing to join forces with her rebels so that Titus can be removed from power.

   Hopper staunchly refuses to believe the things that Firren and the Mus leaders tell him about Titus. They seem to think that the rat is evil, when Hopper is convinced that he is an honorable rat and benevolent leader. It never occurs to him to think that perhaps he is wrong and they are right. When they see that Hopper has a white ring around his eye, the Mus get very excited. It would appear that they too think that this is significant. In fact they think that Hopper is the son Dodger, the “Hero of the Mus” who was killed in battle. They also think that he is the mouse mentioned in a prophecy, a mouse who will “destroy what evil did start,” one who is “Small of stature but brave of heart.” Hopper does not know what to think. Is he really the son of Dodger, and is he therefore half Mus?

   This is the first audio title in what promises to be a wonderful series about the adventures of a young mouse who finds himself in the middle of a conflict that he at first does not understand at all. Listeners will find it impossible not to get wrapped up in Hopper’s mishaps and triumphs, and it is fascinating to see how secrets from the past are revealed as the story unfolds.