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The Mousewife

The Mousewife

by Rumer Godden, pictures by William Pène du Bois

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Day in and day out the dutiful mousewife works alongside her mousehusband in the house of Miss Barbara Wilkinson. It is a nice house and the mousewife is for the most part happy collecting crumbs and preparing a nest for her future mouse-babies—yet she yearns for something more. But what? Her husband, for one, can’t imagine. “I think about cheese,” he advises her. “Why don’t you think about cheese?”

Then an odd and exotic new creature, a turtledove, is brought into the house and placed in a gilded cage. A friendship develops as the dove tells the mousewife about things no house mouse has ever imagined: blue skies, tumbling clouds, tall trees, and far horizons, the memory of which haunt the dove in her captivity. The dove’s tales fill the mousewife with wonder and inspire her to take daring action.

Rumer Godden’s lovely fable about unexpected friendship and bittersweet love was inspired by a story Dorothy Wordsworth wrote for her brother, William, and is accompanied by stunning pen-and-ink drawings by William Pène du Bois. 

by Rumer Godden, pictures by William Pène du Bois

Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Kids
ISBN: 9781590173107
Pages: 56
Publication Date:


The quiet lyricism of William Pène du Bois's drawings for The Mousewife identified beautifully with that miniature epic of heroism, captivity, and freedom.
The Horn Book

A haunting little story of the friendship of a busy mousewife for a captive dove, and of her sacrifice when, moved by compassion, she freed the dove. Exquisite in writing, illustration, and design.

As lovely and as ageless in appeal as a tale of Hans Christian Andersen.
The Horn Book

Rumer Godden's The Mousewife, first illustrated in 1951 and reissued by The New York Review Children's Collection, is a gentle fable of liberation...Disarmingly illustrated by William Pene du Bois, this little book makes a case for empathy and daring: Why creep when you can fly?
O, The Oprah Magazine

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