CLARICE THE BRAVE, by Lisa McMann, G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, Oct. 12, 2021, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 8-12)
Two mice separated during mutiny at sea must use all their wits if they are to survive in Lisa McMann’s Clarice the Brave.
The only good cat is a fed cat. Clarice, a young ship mouse, knows this to be true.
She and her brother, Charles Sebastian, were taught to be careful — as all mice are — but caution is no match for the sea, which took their mother, and it is certainly no match for Special Lady, the horrid cat who ate their sister. Now the siblings hide in their pantry crate, knowing every move they make could be their last.
When a shocking mutiny forces Clarice onto a small, leaky boat with Special Lady and a dozen hungry sailors with deadly boots, Charles Sebastian is left on the ship to fend off mutineers, a flock of irate chickens, and an inquisitive human prisoner — a mouse’s worst enemy.
Being careful may have saved them in the past, but now Clarice and Charles Sebastian will need to grow bold if they are to survive . . . and keep their promise to find one other again. —Synopsis provided by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Clarice the Brave is an adventure told from two points of view. Clarice, whose narrative takes up about two-thirds of the book, is told in first person. This gives readers a true sense of her personality, as well as her strengths and weaknesses. Charles Sebastian’s story unfolds through a third person narrative, allowing readers to see beyond his thoughts and observations. It’s an interesting approach that seems to support the characters’ natures and helps separate the action.
Though Lisa McMann’s characters and their relationships are well-drawn, I never really connected with them. Clarice’s repetitive ruminations really slowed down the narrative, making me feel as though I was pushing through rather than savoring the novel.
Of course, this is all subjective. I recommend checking the book out from the library or reading a sample excerpt prior to purchasing to ascertain whether it’s a good fit.
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