I received a review copy from the author. No other compensation was received.
Musnet: The Mouse of Monet is a gorgeous and friendly story about a mouse discovering his calling in life and also what he wants to be called. Take a friendly and likable orphaned mouse, place him in a beautifully rendered watercolor and ink medium with miniature Monet masterpieces and you get a stunning and engaging story of a mouse learning to become an artist. He makes friends, finds a mentor, and even gets to sneak a peek inside Monet’s studio. It’s incredibly well executed, entertaining, informative, and absolutely absorbing. It is one of the best books I’ve read this year.
Our story begins with a drifter mouse happening upon, Mya, a female mouse in distress. He goes to her rescue only to find that she’s practicing a scene from a story.
© 2016 Kickliy and ODOD Books, used with permission.
© 2016 Kickliy and ODOD Books, used with permission.
They become friends and when she finds out that he is in need of work, she drops him off at a cantankerous squirrel’s house that she knows is looking for someone to work for him. Our mouse, who now calls himself Mus, crashes into the squirrel’s house and offers to work for him. We soon learn that this squirrel is named Rémi, he is a painter, and he is as irascible as he is hardworking and talented.
Mus works hard for Rémi. He stretches canvases, makes paint, cleans the studio, carries equipment, and does whatever else is needed. Mus is still homeless, his problems are far from solved, but at least he has some cheese to eat. Soon Mus realizes that he wants to learn to be a painter as well. After talking with Rémi, and enduring Rémi’s pessimistic ideas on a mouse’s ability to be a great painter, he reluctantly agrees that he will teach Mus to paint.
Mya returns and invites Mus to dinner. Over dinner Mya’s family invites Mus to stay with them in exchange for him doing some paintings.
Soon Mya shows him that they live in the house of a human named Monet. They go together to peek into his studio, and we learn a little about this artist, but they are dissuaded from further exploration by a black cat who guards the premises.
Mus continues working for and taking lessons from Rémi (though, it is questionable about how effective Rémi is). Rémi leaves Mus in charge while he goes off to Paris, but refuses to let Mus use any of his supplies for him to practice with while he is gone. That’s when Mus has the idea to visit Monet’s studio by himself.
While in Monet’s studio, he successfully collects some crusted paint scraps on the floor and stops to admire the paintings. The black cat returns and scares Mus away, but at least he has some paint.
Mya comes to visit Mus and suggests that he uses wooden panels to paint on. After some coaxing, she agrees to let him do a painting of her. He works hard, but he has mixed feelings about how it turns out. Mya declares it a success and asks him to sign his name on the painting. He thinks for a bit and then confesses that he doesn’t really have a name — but he does know that he wants to be the best mouse painter ever. Mya encourages him to pick his own name and he does so, in writing, on his first painting: Musnet.
We get an encouraging “To Be Continued” at the very end. Musnet is a great story that is very well done and it made us all so happy that there’s more to come. The second volume comes out November 2016 and the third is scheduled for April 2017. I can’t wait.
My eldest son was home with the book arrived in the mail. He was finishing his breakfast and watched me open the package. As soon as he saw me take out Musnet he looked wide-eyed and said, “What is that? Can we please read it now?” So we sat down on the living room floor and read the entire book in one gulp. Even the resident two-year old sat with us for the entire story. After what felt like coming up for air when we finished, my eldest asked if he could look at it by himself. I told him to have at it and he got up and walked into the playroom and looked through it. He had his nose an inch away from the book and looked like he was trying to dive into the book. He later asked me tons of questions about the story and we’ve read it many times since it has arrived. I’ve found him sitting quietly by himself looking through it and our two year old has asked me to read it to him again and again and again. (and again!)
I’m also impressed with how inspiring Musnet is. A few days after reading Musnet, my eldest asked if I would get a canvas for him and if he could do some painting.
Musnet is also full of interesting tidbits. You learn that Mus Musculus is Latin for mouse. Impasto, watching characters construct a canvas, gesso, pigment, binders, filbert brushes, toning canvases, and a muller are all discussed. Artistic composition concepts like size and placement, warm shadows, cool light, highlights, and brushstrokes are all emphasized and well placed throughout the story. Words like pernicious, suffice, superb, concede, mantra, and revolutionary are used and French phrases and sound effects are in the background.
In addition to the illustrations in Musnet being gorgeous and eliciting “ooohs” and “ahhhs” the lettering has its own beauty and perfectly guides the reader in how to read the story.
Musnet is a treasure and I cannot wait to read more. Go read it! This book is for everyone who enjoys a good story.
Recommended Ages 8 to 12. (But has universal appeal.) odod books. August 2016. 56 pages. ISBN: 978-1941250099. Fiction.
Where to Get it:
- [Affiliate Link]: Amazon.com
- [Independent Bookstore]: Indiebound.org
- [Library]: Worldcat.org — ask your library to order it.
Author and Illustrator Websites:
- Author and Illustrator: Kickliy
More Reviews of Musnet:
Where Obtained: I received a review copy from the publisher. No other compensation was received. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
FTC Disclosures: Some of the links in the post above are Amazon affiliate links and others are IndieBound affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase something, I will receive an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Which goes to fund my family’s picture book habit. It’s a vicious cycle, but we manage. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”