Guest Book Review: A Mouse Called Julian by Joe Todd-Stanton

Updated: Aug 13, 2019

This lovely children's book is reviewed by Lesley McFarlane - owner of the wonderful indie bookshop Tell Tales Books in Warrington.

Just the beautiful cover of this book - oh my! The touches of silk on the matte hard cover are exquisite. Joe has used the most sumptuous oranges and greens, so beautiful and eye-catching. Also, the end papers – there are subtle changes in them from the beginning papers to the end, giving lots to talk about there too!

So, a wide-eyed fox is curled around the roots of an enormous tree. He is spying on a little mouse, who is just about to tuck into a ripe, red strawberry. Who wouldn’t want to find out what’s going to happen next?!

Julian lives alone, with good reason. Underground the other animals just get in his way. Above ground they try to eat him! However, he has strategies to overcome these things. He has a map of the underground homes of the other animals, and thereby avoids them. He also has ways to avoid those above ground who stand in the way of him and his food. What he doesn’t know is that he was being watched. Fox waits until Julian is busy in his little den and then smashes through the window to try and snatch him! Unfortunately for Fox, he gets stuck without quite being able to reach lucky Julian! No amount of pushing and pulling will free him.

They start to chat; Julian behaves with exceedingly good grace and shares his fruit with Fox. They talk into the night. Fox decides, ‘It is much nicer to eat dinner with Julian than to eat Julian for dinner.’ Julian thinks, having a guest wasn’t so terrible. ‘

The next day, Julian executes a great, and hilarious escape for Fox.

The twist in the tale…. well I’ll let you discover that for yourself!

This book reminds me of something I might have read when I was young. It has a familiar feel, like Aesop’s Fables or Brer Rabbit. It gives a gentle insight into why people are alone. How unexpected, and sometimes unpleasant things can lead to good changes in your life. A story with a twist and a moral, you can’t go wrong with this one.

I love this book from its delightful colours, through to its thick, matte pages. The earthy colours are very Todd-Stanton - and I don’t know if the colours match the story or the story matches the colours! The way he creates the sense of movement in the fox is superb! The pictures are simple, uncomplicated and yet charmingly detailed - the map on Julian’s wall or Daddy badger reading to the child. It’s the small things that please me!

I can see this becoming a family favourite, and my next job is to share it with my grandsons.

A treasure of a book and no less than I would expect from this talented chap.

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