The sibling-in-law who gave it to me is quick to point out that, despite the title, Russell Hoban's* The Mouse and His Child is not about an animal mouse. That the title characters are wind-up toys in no way diminishes their longings or adventures.
There is much that could be discussed concerning this book. The middle school teacher who wrote a review for Amazon captures the range well, from literary abbreviations to shrews in Redwall to the origin of Sirius Black's name. Beyond being full of information and allusions, The Mouse and His Child, has great thematic depth. One could spend a great deal of time debating whether this is a novel about self-determination and fate; the folly of war and intellectualism; the power of persistence and forgiveness; or just a classic coming-of-age journey.
Strangely, given the previous paragraph, this is a book I have very little to say about at the moment. Rather, it is a book that I want to discuss with others who have actually read it. So read it and then we'll talk. It's a good book (although not a particularly fast read for me). I'd recommend it to many in may acquaintance, I think Jenny (I forgot your code name) would particularly enjoy it, and Starship Scribbler and Sunflower Spinner would really appreciate the illustrations and the beauty of the book itself.
Sib-in-law informs me, by the way, that the original illustrations greatly enhanced the text, so he was dismayed to find it no longer in print. He was pleasantly surprised, however, to find that the new David Small illustrations also reflect the tone of the book and enhance the reading experience, so he approves. Having never seen the originals, I can't compare, but the current illustrations are great.
Many thanks to Sib-in-law for bringing this to my attention and giving me such a lovely gift.
*It's come to my attention that Russell Hoban is also the author of the Frances series of picture books (Bedtime for Frances, Bread and Jam for Frances). Don't read The Mouse and His Child expecting a Frances story.
Illustration from Amazon, which you can link to here.