I’ve just finished reading The Mouse and His Child by Russell Hoban. When I was little I watched the animated movie many times. There’s a scene in the cartoon where a rat beats an old wind-up donkey to death and, unsurprisingly, it always stayed with me. I saw the book at a book-fair and picked it up for $2, for old times sake really.
It was a brilliant book. While I recognised a lot of scenes from the movie (including the scene with the donkey) there was so much more to it. Even knowing how it would end, I couldn’t stop reading about the toy mice’s journey from the toy-store to the cruel word and their quest to become self-winding and autonomous.
And I would never have picked it up if not for the book-fair and a bit of childhood nostalgia.
We tend to be attracted to what’s shiny and new but old stories have so much to offer. The Mouse and His Child was first published in 1967 but it’s themes are timeless. The writing style of older books is very different to modern style, often with much more description and author intrusion, but they’re often beautiful and poetic because of an author’s artistic license.
If you get a chance, keep an eye out for The Mouse and His Child and in the mean time blow the dust off some older stories for a chance of pace.