For a certain type of child, there is nothing better than anything tiny. Tiny books, tiny toys, tiny leaves and flowers. These are the children that tend to have elaborately tended dollhouses–no matter how patchily put together–and shelves full of miniature ‘found’ objects.
Children who like tiny things often like books about tiny creatures. Joining the grand tradition of The Borrowers, The Littles, and myriad others, is Richard Peck’s new book Secrets at Sea.
Peck’s book is part of what I call the ‘Mice in Outfits’ genre (The Rescuers, The Mouse and His Child, The Mousewife — all of which I adore), but he couples that tradition with his own particular sensibility. Secrets at Sea is the story of Helena, the eldest of a (distinguished but recently diminished) family of mice (Louisa, Beatrice and Lamont) who are living in the same Edwardian-era Hudson Valley house as the Upstairs Cranstons, a somewhat vapid family who decide to go to England to give their awkward eldest daughter a chance to catch a husband. The mice — in spite of their fear of water — go along, of course, and while the Upstairs Cranstons’ journey pays glorious dividends, the Downstairs Cranstons’ reaps completely unexpected results.
More like Fair Weather than any of Peck’s more recent books, Secrets at Sea is full of lovely details for both the tiny-oriented (a grand yardstick dinner table, spools for chairs, soup served out of thimbles), and those who love adventurous capers. Even young Titanic enthusiasts might enjoy reading about a non-doomed ocean voyage for a change. Secrets at Sea is recommended highly for all kinds of readers.
Posted by: Sarah