Recommended age: 9+

The Umbrella Mouse

by Anna Fargher
The Umbrella Mouse
by Anna Fargher

When an umbrella shop in wartime London is destroyed by a bomb, the only survivor is a young mouse called Pip Hanway.

Bewildered to be alone, with her mother and father presumed dead, she salvages a treasured umbrella and quickly resolves to find a new home, a place she has heard is the source of the umbrella, in Italy.

Dickin, a terrier who helps find people buried underneath the damaged city, offers help to Pip but find that she is determined to fulfil her quest, seemingly oblivious to the enormity of her task.

A route opens up to her, though, when she meets and joins Noah's Ark, a group of animals fighting the resistance in France, operating beneath the feet of the human soldiers.

Pip's mission is relentless and dangerous, seemingly with no respite. Death is around every corner and I found this shocking and saddening. There's no charmed existence for these animals as they do their bit for Europe at war.

The book has a beautiful cover, and delightful illustrations throughout, though these seem in opposition to the reality of death and danger presented in the story. It's fast-paced with great characterisation, but I felt rather cheated with an ending that suggested a sequel. Nevertheless, I'd read anything else by this author in a heartbeat!

Review date: April 2019