The first half of this book is just plain sweet and cozy. Yes, a little sappy, but I don't mind a little sap every now and then. I think the book takes an unfortunate turn about half-way through - too jarring and melodramatic when paired with the idyllic first half. Still, overall it's a sweet story with memorable characters.
Modern sequels to beloved classics are a tricky thing. Sometimes they're really well done (Wishing for Tomorrow: The Sequel to A Little Princess) and sometimes they make me want to hurl the book across the room (The Beekeeper's Apprentice).
Thankfully, this one was really quite well done which didn't surprise me all that much as this same author wrote the remarkable debut novel The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. We know the lady can write, but could she capture the essence of one of of the most beloved of all children's novels?
Yes, mostly. I think she gets the characters just about right. Toad's sojourn to Cambridge and the resulting disaster was absolutely hysterical. The overall tone is a bit lighter and sillier feeling than the first, but that's not entirely a bad thing. I thought the story was very fun and I'm firmly in the camp of loving the footnotes, but I could see how they could be annoying. I didn't love the addition of Matilda Rat. It feels a bit out of character for Ratty to have a love interest and, what's more, she really seems more like a plot device than a fully fleshed out character.
Overall, a very fun read for anyone who don't feel they can ever get quite enough of 'messing about in boats'.
As an adult reading this for the first time, I really had to shut off a good portion of my brain that concerns itself with 'plausibility' and 'child safety', etc. Once I did that I really had a jolly old time! On one level, the most important level really, this is fabulous escapist fiction for kids. Even now I found myself getting caught up in and deeply admiring Claudia's planning and execution of the big run-away adventure. On another level, this is about the little ways we find to escape the mundane and how we can feel special and unique when life seems so ordinary.
The 'feel' of the novel - the 1960s New York setting, the precocious heroine - are very like 'Harriet the Spy'. My daughter loved both equally, but is fairly devastated to learn that automats no longer exist.
Slightly dated, but completely charming!
Besides having two similar mouse characters and a rescuing plotline, this barely resembles the 1970s Disney cartoon. A third (and quite pivotal) mouse character is completely missing from the film as well as the chilling and unforgettable Black Castle Prison. I loved how it was never quite clear WHEN this story was taking place and yet the various settings were so vividly described. Who can ever forget the Head Jailer's quarters with walls covered with impaled butterflies? Reading this aloud with my daughter was really such a delight. It was a bit slow to start, but really ramped up quickly and near the end we really couldn't put it down. I find that so many more books start with a bang and peter out so I was delighted to experience the reverse. Definitely try to find a version with illustrations by Garth Williams!