Meet a special mousewife. She goes through the motions of doing her mousewifely duties but is just not satisfied with same old, same old. This mousewife, getting a glimpse at the world outside her realm (the confines of the house) "want[s] more." Finally, a remedy to her longing arrives in the form of a turtledove, caught by a boy and confined in a cage by the woman of the house. Longing for his freedom, the dove refuses to eat. But in his new habitat, he has an avid audience in the disillusioned mousewife, with whom he shares his stories of flying and the joys of the world outside. Eventually he falls for her, even greets her with dove-y endearments and kisses "with his beak." One night she puts her babies to sleep, then sneaks off to rendezvous with the bird. Upon the mousewife's return, her mad mate takes drastic action. Choosing family over fowl, she frees the bird and experiences an epiphany about the outside world sans turtledove, "I can see for myself."
As an adult, I find this very short (ten minute read) story a bit intriguing, but as a picture book for four to eight year olds (its advertised target age) I don't. I can imagine (and have seen) the whole disillusionment issue going (expectedly) straight over the heads of these kids. My biggest beef with the book, however, is that the original author, Dorothy Wordsworth, gets almost no credit for her story! Shouldn't the cover say, "by Dorothy Wordsworth, as retold by Rumer Godden"? I mean, where is the outrage? For this, I can't get beyond thinking the published version is just "okay." And unfortunately, I have not been able to find the original version to judge it on its own merits.
As the mother of picture book readers, I believe that there are much more appropriate books for four to eight year olds: Frederick, Swimmy, Inch by Inch and The Biggest House in the World - all by Leo Lionni and Lily's Purple Plastic Purse and Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes, who writes neat books with mice as main characters.