Journey Beyond the Burrow

HarperCollins/Harper. Jul. 2021. 288p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780063016033.
Gr 4-8–Like all households, the Great Burrow where Tobin and his family reside has rules; important and perhaps life-preserving rules for a young mouse. But when Tobin, his sister, and his best friend Wiley leave the burrow to save his baby sibling, extenuating circumstances force sweeping rule changes. The newborn, abducted by massive Arakni spiders, faces certain death and time is of the essence. The valiant yet naive trio befriend unlikely comrades in their journey. From partnering with snake royalty to losing his tail and bearing responsibility for his crew, Tobin is forced to make decisions that will ultimately affect the lives of those he loves. The success of his squad rests heavily on his tiny, furry shoulders. Heisel’s sweet tale scurries through a perilous escapade whose plot coils and squirms alongside its characters. Strong pacing, character development, and description intertwine to build fresh anticipation for the classic animal journey saga. The field-mouse perspective is consistent and engaging, simultaneously showcasing the threats and attributes of these small, nimble critters. Inner thoughts and description from a field mouse’s eyes reveal the forest and its creatures from a novel perspective. Heisel lays out tidbits of information, leading readers to ponder solutions and potential paths throughout Tobin’s journey. Compelled to know what happens next, tweens will gobble up the unpredictability and unexpected situations. Readers will identify with Tobin, whose evident vulnerability fails to diminish his growth as a leader and hero.
VERDICT Heisel’s mice quest leaps beyond tired animal stories with rich plot spins and compelling characters that will entice tweens and teach them about life’s journeys.

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