I really like Happy the Mouse. He makes me… happy. It seems impossible to read Happy’s adventures without at least a giggle or three. I was wondering, when I read Mouse Pet, the third of Philip Roy’s Happy the Pocket Mouse series, whether the humour would be sustained; it certainly has been so far. In Mouse Vacation, the fourth in the series, Happy is bored and wants to travel; John, predictably parent-like, attempts to stave him off. As in Mouse Pet, Happy’s contemplation opens the narrative:
“We never go anywhere.”
“We never go anywhere, John.”
“Yes we do, Happy. We go places.”
“No, we don’t, John. When do we ever go anywhere?”
“We went to the store yesterday.”
Planning the vacation, John says, is half the fun. So the two begin to plan. John suggests local nature outings; Happy suggests exotic destinations. Andrea Torrey Balsara’s delightful illustrations make all of the suggestions highly appealing.
Happy’s very-mature-child voice will be familiar to readers of all ages, his self-confidence both engaging and humorous:
“Do you know where our neighbour Mrs. Farrell went last year, all by herself? … Alaska. She went all the way to Alaska, John. By herself.”
You can just hear the derision in his voice: adults can be so dense sometimes. But Happy, in his näiveté, fails to understand the economics of travel to the Taj Mahal, New Zealand, or Egypt. The pair do come to a compromise: Happy is excited to go on an overnight bus trip to the seashore to see the tall ships; John is pleased as a bus trip is within their budget. The pragmatics that John has to consider are a real part of family life, and Roy gives voice to both the child and parent perspective such that Happy, like the child reader, will be satisfied and engaged, even if they are not destined for Egypt.
In Mouse Vacation, Happy the Pocket Mouse learns a little more about how the real world works, with an adult who is obviously loving and considerate. Geography, though, obviously still escapes him:
“Hmmm … Hmmm … John?”
“Do you think maybe we can stop at the Grand Canyon on our way home from the seashore?”
Too adorable. I want my own Pocket Mouse, almost as much as I want a House Hippo.