A furry mouse or a magic mouse? Which do you prefer?
This week, Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch got herself a new computer with a new mouse. She thinks it’s a magic mouse. I hope it is.
In her excitement, she put out the challenge to writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a mouse. It can be real, imagined, electronic or whiskered. Go where the prompt leads!
Mice feature prominently in stories, poems and songs for children.
Very young children learn the nursery rhymes Hickory Dickory Dock and Three Blind Mice.
Rose Fyleman’s poem about Mice is always popular for children to learn and recite in school.
There is the fable about The Lion and the Mouse, the story of The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse and the more recent The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear.
As a child, I enjoyed the song Windmill in Old Amsterdam. Perhaps you remember it too?
But I think my favourite mouse story is that of Possum Magic, the classic picture book by Mem Fox. I’m not referring to the picture book itself, but the story of how it came to be.
Mem shares some of the goss on her site. You see, Hush started life as an invisible mouse in an assignment Mem produced as part of a course in children’s literature. She was awarded a high distinction for the story and, over the next five years, sent it off to nine different publishers. Each time the story came back.
While Mem found the rejections disheartening, she was encouraged by family and friends who believed in her story. So, she sent it off again, and the tenth publisher asked her to “cut the story by two thirds, re-write it more lyrically, make it even more Australian and change the mice to a cuddly Australian animal. “
Mem did as requested, changed the mice to possums, and so Possum Magic was born. The book was published in 1983 and remains one of the most popular and best-selling picture books in Australia. (While not mentioned on the site, I seem to remember reading that the book had almost 30 rewrites!)
When I first heard this story of Possum Magic, I was younger than Mem was when the book was published. The story inspired me and encouraged me to hope. I loved Mem’s yet attitude (though I didn’t yet know it as that), her belief in her story, persistence in pursuing its publication and willingness to learn from others. Without those marvellous qualities, Possum Magic may never have seen the light of day. It may have languished in the bottom of a drawer somewhere with other forgotten manuscripts.
How many manuscripts do you need to take out, dust off, and send on their way?
Here’s my little story in response to Charli’s challenge this week. I hope you like it.
A Mouse Backfires
“Eek!“ shrieked Granny, toppling back on the chair, arms and legs flailing.
“Thwunk!” Her head struck the wall, silencing the children’s sniggers.
Granny slumped motionless, eyes closed, tongue lolling from her slack jaw.
Barney gaped. “D’ya, d’ya think she’s dead?”
“Don’t be silly,” admonished Eliza, older and wiser. “She couldn’t be. Could she?”
The children tiptoed closer.
“What if she wakes up?”
“What if she doesn’t?”
“I’ll check her pulse,” mouthed Eliza.
Suddenly, Granny jolted upright, eyes staring blankly.
The children gasped.
“Gotcha!” laughed Granny. “But that is a clever mouse.”
“How did you —?”
Granny winked. “Granny knows.”
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.