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Binky Mouse and the Birthday Party; Binky Mouse and Blot's Bad Cold; Fresh Start Review by Dr. Anne Margaret Wright

By Sheila Hoeman; illustrated by Graham Ogilvie and Al Stacey
Nomedigas Publishing
Order online through:
York Publishing Services Ltd.
64 Hallfield Road
Y031 7ZQ
United Kingdom

What is it about mice that makes us run from them in fear in real life (at least I do!) but also makes us croon over how cute they are in cartoon format? Sheila Hoeman, an experienced teacher in England, has brought to life some adorable mice in her Binky Mouse series for young children. InBinky Mouse and the Birthday Party, Binky Mouse celebrates his birthday with his family and best friend, Blot. In Binky Mouse and Blot's Bad Cold, Blot decides to visit his friend Binky after waking up with a terrible cold. Along the way, he manages to protect his dear friend from the neighborhood cat. Thought-provoking questions are included throughout the books for kids to ponder, and additional learning ideas are printed on the last page. Graham Ogilvie beautifully illustrates both 24-page books. Gotta' love those cute mice!

Sheila Hoeman also wrote a 65-page chapter book called Fresh Start. The main character is nine-year-old Sam, whose parents have just split up. Sam and his dad are moving to another house, and his busy mom is moving to the city to be near her job. Sam makes friends with his neighbor, Katie, who helps him feel more at home in his new school. The two also share a couple of time-travel type adventures into the World War II era. The story ends with Sam spending the weekend at his mom's new flat as he settles into his "fresh start" of splitting his time between his two parents' homes.

All three of these books feature sweet characters and try to keep the interest level high for kids. Some features of the stories are a bit disconnected or unrealistic, such as Blot going out in the rain with a cold to visit his friend, and the unexplained time travel and other aspects of Fresh Start. All three books could benefit from the attention of a skilled editor, especially for punctuation. Nevertheless, the stories are generally positive and interesting and would likely make for a nice afternoon read for young children.

Product review by Dr. Anne Margaret Wright, Senior Product Reviewer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2010