'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday 23 November 2022

Review: Need a House? Call Ms Mouse!

Need a House? Call Ms Mouse! That’s both the name of this fabulous STEM-themed picture book, and the message of its animal characters.

Ms Mouse is Henrietta, a talented architect whose imagination and creativity are put to excellent use. This book is like a portfolio of Henrietta's work.

There are many animals who want the home of their dreams, so Henrietta listens carefully to their brief, then designs a house to meet them. 

From Lizard’s desire for a beach house to lounge in the sun, to Owl's tower with an observatory to gaze to the stars. Caterpillar has a snug home packed with features that allow him to store plenty of food. There are also homes for Squirrel, Spider, Trout, and others.

Whether simple or grand, Henrietta will find a solution, and she might just inspire future architects and designers to do the same.

George Mendoza's text helps readers understand a little about design and building, and to learn about the animals' needs and environments.

Doris Susan Smith's illustrations are a brilliant visualisation of Henrietta's designs. They're in pen and ink and watercolour, and take a cross-section approach to depicting the various houses. It lets you explore the nooks and crannies of the house design.

Need a House? Call Ms Mouse! is a reprint of the original, first published in 1981, and a favourite childhood memory for those who read it in the '80s. I hadn't heard of the book before, which is surprising given my particular interests, but it appealed to me straight away and I'm happy to have been able to enjoy it.

It's great to know Allen & Unwin set out to find the copyright holder so this book could be republished at last, much to the excitement of those who have long awaited it, and for all the new readers of today.

Detail and creativity abound in Need a House? Call Ms Mouse! I highly recommend you find a copy and share it with your family, and keep it for future readers to enjoy as well.

Title: Need a House? Call Ms Mouse!
Author: George Mendoza
Illustrator: Doris Susan Smith
Publisher: Allen and Unwin, $24.99
Publication Date: 1 November 2022
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781761066016
For ages:  3 - 7 
Type: Picture Book