Young Fredle by Cynthia Voigt; illustrated by Louise Yates. Alfred A. Knopf, 2011.
Young Fredle grows up repeatedly hearing the rules about how mice behave. Sometimes it seems like life between the walls of the kitchen is nothing but rules. One of the most important rules is that mice don’t change. But that doesn’t dampen Fredle’s curiosity and sense of adventure. Finally, his mother’s predictions come true, and his curious nature and sweet tooth get Fredle in deep trouble. And so Fredle finds himself Outside.
All of his life Fredle has heard about how awful it is for mice who live anywhere in the house besides his home in the pantry. Outside is completely unimaginable and terrifying. As he struggles to survive, Fredle encounters known dangers like cats as well as new dangers – owls, snakes and raccoons. But he also makes new friends and discovers some beautiful surprises, like stars and flowers. Through it all, Fredle strives to find his way back home to his family.
Along the way, Fredle learns that the world is a much bigger place than he ever dreamed and that other ways of doing things are not necessarily bad. As he explores the wider world, Fredle learns more about himself and where he fits in that world, leading him to wonder “Why can’t mice change?” Young Fredle takes readers on an exciting adventure of discovery and danger, unexpected friendship and loneliness, and asks the question – what does home really mean?
This book is especially suited to upper elementary school aged children, but Fredle’s courage and cleverness will win over readers of all ages. If you enjoyed Voigt’s Angus and Sadie or Lois Lowry’s Bless This Mouse, you won’t want to miss this book. Families looking for a great audio book for summer car rides should consider the Odyssey Award winning version of Young Fredle narrated by Wendy Carter.
This review also appeared on the Central Rappahannock Regional Library’s Shelf Life blog on May 31, 2012.