Top Ten Middle Grade Books About Mice by Holly Mueller

    What is it about mice?  We don’t like them scurrying around our houses or garages.  Some people get cats just to limit the mouse population, and we all know stories of ladies jumping up on tables or chairs, screaming at the sight of them.  We even think elephants shudder and quake in fear over mice.  I completely understand why we read books about dogs, horses, and fluffy kittens, but why do we love books about what we consider vermin in real life?  I asked myself this question as I started the delightful audio book of Richard Peck’s The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail, a book about an orphan mouse in London  on a quest to find out who he really is.  This is Peck’s second book about mice.

I decided to start a quest myself – to compile a list of favorite middle grade books about mice to find out why we like to read about them.

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1.  The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

Kate DiCamillo knows how to combine magic, a light vs.dark theme topic, and a quest to captivate readers.  Who didn’t fall in love with Despereaux Tilling?

2.  Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert C. O’Brien

I still remember my seventh grade English teacher reading this aloud.  I looked forward to her class all day, every day just to hear how Mrs. Frisby was going to save her herself and her children with the help of those brilliant rats.

3.  A Nest for Celeste: A Story About Art, Inspiration, and the Meaning of Home by Henry Cole

Our media specialist recommended this one to me, and I passed it along to my students, who loved it.  This little book, filled with beautiful illustrations, is about a mouse looking for a home.

4.  Poppy by Avi

I read this book aloud to my daughters when they were little, and I remember us all cuddled up, hoping Poppy would remain safe from evil Mr. Ocax.

5.  Any Babymouse book by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

Babymouse keeps adults and children laughing with her blend of attitude and vulnerability.  We don’t like to see Felicia Furrypaws get the upper hand, so we cheer her on!

6.  The Cricket in Times Square by George Seldon

I loved this book as a kid.  This classic featured city mouse, Tucker, Harry Cat, and Chester Cricket, an unlikely trio in New York City.

7. The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary

Beverly Cleary was always a favorite of mine.  I read and enjoyed all her books when I was younger.  Ralph, an adventurous mouse, and Keith, a boy determined to teach him how to ride his toy motorcycle, become friends.

8.  Stuart Little by E.B. White

E.B. White is one of my favorite writers of all time.  He was able to transform animals into beloved heroes.  His books are a testimony to friendship and bravery.  I loved little Stuart and his adventurous spirit, willing to risk his life for a friend.

9.  The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale by Carman Agra Deedy and Randall Wright

Skilley the alley cat likes cheese better than mice.  When he learns the innkeeper at Cheshire Cheese Inn needs a mouser, he strikes up a bargain with the intelligent mouse, Pip.  He’ll protect the mice if the mice will provide him with cheese.  I love the illustrations.

10.  Redwall by Brian Jacques

My oldest daughter loved this series when she was in elementary school, and I still see kids get hooked on it every year.  The peace-loving mice of Redwall Abbey battle an army of rats in this David and Goliath – themed book.

After reviewing and remembering all these mouse books, I think I’ve got it!  Mice are the epitome of the misunderstood underdog.  They’ve got the more powerful and nasty cousins, the rats, and they don’t mean to scare or startle us.  Apparently, they possess the noble qualities of reluctant heroism and devoted friend, and will risk life and limb to protect others even though they are considered weak.  Of course we love them!  Are there any favorite mouse stories I left out?   I could do another complete post on mice in picture books!

Holly Mueller is a gifted intervention specialist who teaches accelerated 5th/6th grade ELA at Columbia Intermediate School in Kings Local School District in Ohio.  She loves to read, teach, write, learn, hang out with friends and family, walk her dog, and travel.  Books cover every corner in her house and classroom.  She blogs at Reading, Teaching, Learning and tweets as @muellerholly.  She recently became a contributor for Choice Literacy.