November 22, 2014

Jellybean Mouse

by Philip Roy
Illustrated by Andrea Torrey Balsara
Ronsdale Press
32 pp.
Ages 4-8
September, 2014

I fell in love with Happy the Pocket Mouse when he first appeared in Philip Roy's Mouse Tales (Ronsdale, 2014) and I continue to delight in the tender-hearted relationship between this quirky-whiskered and curious mouse and his housemate, John.

In Jellybean Mouse, Happy is seriously bored but the only exciting adventure on their agenda that day is a trip to the laundromat to wash clothes i.e., not very exciting at all. Happy goes along with John but sees the potential for excitement all along the way: at the bowling alley, the skating rink, and the grocery store.  But, of course, John keeps them on course, regardless of Happy's relentless queries.

Ah, but the laundromat offers a wonderful new option: a jellybean machine.  And though Happy must deal with a few obstacles, his determination is interminable.  He's a curious child who asks, wonders, listens, and ponders, and looks for a way to get what he wants without being selfish or breaking the rules.  Happy's innocence and positive attitude provide him with the hope to find something good in just about anything, and Philip Roy's words share that unpretentiousness superbly.  Honestly, Happy is that precious.

Jellybean Mouse is the simple story of a guardian and his ward, albeit a man and a mouse, and the pure, uncomplicated life they lead, finding joy in the simple pleasures.  Philip Roy gives John and Happy the perfect compassionate relationship to which most of us could only aspire.  And Andrea Torrey Balsara continues to provide the only illustrations that could epitomize John and Happy: the calm, steadfastness of John and the thoughtful, inquisitive Happy.  I don't know whether it's her palette of colours (Happy has a lovely mauve hue to his fur) or the straggly nature of her lines, as in Happy's whiskers, or the softness of John's eyewear and Happy's roundish belly and massive, interested eyes.  All I know is that, courtesy of Philip Roy and Andrea Torrey Balsara, Happy is now as firmly entrenched in my heart as he wanted to be in that jellybean machine.

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