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Review of Hermelin the Detective Mouse

grey_hermelinstar2 Hermelin the Detective Mouse
by Mini Grey; illus. by the author
Primary    Knopf    32 pp.
8/14    978-0-385-75433-0    $17.99
Library ed.  978-0-385-75434-7    $20.99
e-book ed.  978-0-385-75435-4    $10.99

A double-page spread shows us Offley Street, a panorama of seven row houses, each revealing, in glimpses through windows and open doors, small mysteries and nascent stories that figure throughout the book. Our entrée into this world is a small white mouse detective, Hermelin, who tackles, one by one, the disappearances and crimes set up in that first spread and reports his findings to the Offley residents through letters he composes on his trusty typewriter. And one by one, the grateful residents, from Lady Chumley-Plumley to Bulbo Bosher to Imogen Splotts, wonder, “But who IS Hermelin?” So far, so cozy, but things heat up when Baby McMumbo falls into the garbage can and is about to be scooped up by the “Garbage Gobbler.” Fast but anonymous action on Hermelin’s part saves the baby and the day. However, when the residents discover that Hermelin is a mouse, they want nothing to do with him. Rejected, Hermelin prepares to leave Offley Street, but in best detective fashion, Grey pulls out a previously overlooked character to turn the tide and give Hermelin his due. As Grey’s Traction Man (rev. 3/05) is to the superhero trope, so Hermelin is to the observant, cerebral detective. Every page holds treats and surprises in this tribute to neighborhood life, good deeds, and journalism.

From the July/August 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Sarah Ellis

Sarah Ellis is a Vancouver-based writer and critic, recently retired from the faculty of The Vermont College of Fine Arts.

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