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The Mousewife Hardcover – Apr 21 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: NYR Children's Collection (April 21 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590173104
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590173107
  • Product Dimensions: 14.7 x 1 x 22.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #485,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Storywraps TOP 500 REVIEWER on March 25 2015
Format: Hardcover
This is beautiful, gentle tale will tug at your heartstrings. The story was inspired by Dorothy Wordsworth's (an English poet and diarist). It is a story composed for her brother William. An ordinary little mouse has seeds of wonder and dreams planted deep in her heart and she always in her mind reaches beyond the everyday, mundane rhyme of her life knowing there is much more beyond her mouse dreary mouse hole.

"She looked the same; she had the same ears and prick nose and whiskers and dewdrop eyes; the same little bones and grey fur; the same skinny paws and long skinny tail.
She did all the things a housewife does: she made a nest for the mouse babies she hoped to have one day; she collected crumbs of food for her husband and herself; once she bit the top off a whole bowl of crocuses; she played with the other mice at midnight on the attic floor.

"What more do you want?" asked her husband.
She did not know what it was she wanted, but she wanted more. "

The little mousewife is constantly looking out the window, her little nose twitching against the windowpane, wondering about apple blossoms, bluebells and what lays beyond the woods.

She and her husband are living in the house of spinster, Miss Barbara Wilkinson. Each day is the same with her daily routine of keeping house, stealing some crumbs to eat so they have meals, and running an efficient home for her husband. Then one morning everything changes. A boy brings a turtle dove that he caught in the woods to the mistress of the house. Happily the lady puts the dove in an elegant cage with gilt bars and serves him peas, lumps of sugar, and pieces of fat. Now the little mousewife is drawn to the dove's food.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 8 reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
A Hidden Story of Dorothy Wordsworth Nov. 24 2005
By Elizagape - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
A beloved treasure of early childhood, THE MOUSEWIFE has haunted me ever since I first read it. It is a deceptively simple tale of a house-bound mouse who befriends a caged dove. But the conversations between the two creatures and the juxtapositions of domestic tasks for the mouse with the longing for the wild of the dove takes on a touching comment on Romanticism. The idea for the story is to be found in Dorothy Wordsworth's journals of Grasmere, which she kept for the pleasure of her brother, the poet William. She, William and Coleridge enjoyed a creative community of writing, but the contributions of Dorothy to this effort are only recently being recognized in feminist studies. Certainly this little story with its themes of domestic security and an awakened sense of the sublime of nature reflects the dilemma of women writers in Romanticism. While in Dorothy's original story the dove dies, in this book the dove is released by the mousewife. I do believe it would be well worth it to publish this book again.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A true classic! April 4 2012
By Jaime A. Geraldi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"A cage would never do for one made to fly...", truer words have never been written! What a fantastic story about unforeseen friendship and bittersweet affection. The story is about a house-bound mouse who unexpectedly meets a caged dove. The mousewife is bored with her everyday routine caring for her mousehusband and has an appetite that cheese could never satisfy. She meets a dove who was captured and trapped. The dove's tales fill the mousewife with wonder and she is fascinated immediately. She learns about the world outside and aches for something more. Blue skies! Tall trees! Far horizons! I adored this story which offers a new perception on freedom, longing and love. Children and adults of all ages will embrace this story which can be read on many different levels and deem it a true classic.
15 of 21 people found the following review helpful
"once there was a little mousewife that was different from the rest." July 4 2009
By Julee Rudolf - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
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.
A beautiful tale of friendship March 25 2015
By Storywraps - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is beautiful, gentle tale will tug at your heartstrings. The story was inspired by Dorothy Wordsworth's (an English poet and diarist). It is a story composed for her brother William. An ordinary little mouse has seeds of wonder and dreams planted deep in her heart and she always in her mind reaches beyond the everyday, mundane rhyme of her life knowing there is much more beyond her mouse dreary mouse hole.

"She looked the same; she had the same ears and prick nose and whiskers and dewdrop eyes; the same little bones and grey fur; the same skinny paws and long skinny tail.
She did all the things a housewife does: she made a nest for the mouse babies she hoped to have one day; she collected crumbs of food for her husband and herself; once she bit the top off a whole bowl of crocuses; she played with the other mice at midnight on the attic floor.

"What more do you want?" asked her husband.
She did not know what it was she wanted, but she wanted more. "

The little mousewife is constantly looking out the window, her little nose twitching against the windowpane, wondering about apple blossoms, bluebells and what lays beyond the woods.

She and her husband are living in the house of spinster, Miss Barbara Wilkinson. Each day is the same with her daily routine of keeping house, stealing some crumbs to eat so they have meals, and running an efficient home for her husband. Then one morning everything changes. A boy brings a turtle dove that he caught in the woods to the mistress of the house. Happily the lady puts the dove in an elegant cage with gilt bars and serves him peas, lumps of sugar, and pieces of fat. Now the little mousewife is drawn to the dove's food. He refuses to eat it as he is crushed and heartbroken being caged up and he won't even drink the water.

"- he said he did not like water. 'Only dew, dew, dew,' he said.
'What is dew?' asked the mousewife.
"He could not tell her what dew was, but he told her how it shines on the leaves and grass in the early morning for doves to drink. That made him think of night in the woods and how he and his mate would come down with the first light to walk on the earth and peck for food, and of how, then, they would fly over the fields to other woods farther away."

The dove and the mousewife strike up a friendship and she tries with all her might to nurture him and get him to partake of his food which he still refuses. Her crotchety old husband is not happy with her with all the time she spends away from him.

"I do not like it. The proper place for a housewife is in her hole or coming out for crumbs and frolic with me. " The housewife did not answer. She looked far away."

Her husband once bit her on the ear for coming home late and not fetching his food properly and arranging it to his satisfaction. Why should she even bother to think about apple blossoms and such silly things when she could be thinking of .... cheese?

The mousewife has a nestful of babies so her first priority is to her young family and she is unable to visit the dove for quite some time. When she finally does she can't believe what she encounters and is truly shocked. The dove is weak and exhausted, his wings hang limply down because he thinks his close mouse friend has gone away forever and he has hardly eaten a morsel since she has left him.

"He cowered over her with his wings and kissed her with his beak; she had not known his feathers were so soft or that his breast was so warm. 'I thought you were gone, gone, gone,' he said over and over again.
"Tut! Tut!' said the housewife. ' A body has other things to do. I can't be always running off to you.' But, though she pretended to scold him, she had a tear at the end of her whisker for the poor dove."

How could this very tiny but big-hearted creature help this poor trapped dove who was fading away and trapped in that gilded cage? Her dilemma being that she loved having him there with her to tell her of the world beyond thus fuelling her dreams. She has to make a hard decision, should she opt to set him free and not only lose a very close friend and the treats she could attain from him for her ever growing family? Setting him free means he can go back to his beloved mate and his wonderful world outside of the window?

I think you can guess what she chose. I dreamer cannot help but make that choice and off he flew....out the open window...and gone!

'He has flown,' she said. "Now there is no one to tell me about the hills and the corn and the clouds. I shall forget them. How shall I remember when there is no one to tell me and there are so many children and crumbs and bits of fluff to think of?' She had millet tears, not on her whiskers but in her eyes.

Although it grieved her greatly to do so she knew deep down in her heart of hearts that she did the right thing and as she witnesses his ascent into the sky she sees the seemingly shiny little brass buttons twinkling there...

She knew now that they were not buttons but something far and big and strange. 'But not so strange to me,' she said,' for I have seen them myself,'said the mousewife, 'without the dove. I can see for myself,' said the housewife, and slowly, proudly, she walked back to bed.

The story in enriched by the sketches and illustrations of William Pène du Bois. This truly is a timeless classic and I highly, highly recommend this book. It is another winner from the New York review Children's Collection.
a classic, timeless, ageless story Feb. 6 2013
By Carol Burk - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have had this story for years in my class teaching of religion. It is a joyful story of freedom for the mouse and the dove.

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