The Mousetales are a group of whimsical, playful episodes that tell of children who are aided in nighttime distress by dedicated “mouses” of the Children‛s Mouse Brigade. Henry and Ginger and their fellow Brigade members are involved in adventure after adventure as they ensure that children not suffer sleepless nights or fear of the dark. The Brigade accomplishes its missions through inventive approaches, prompted by unique mousevision and mousememory that calm the children, thereby making them feel safe. They are ably assisted in their efforts by a mousenet piggybacked to the humans‛ net; by their comprehension of English and, for some members, of French (although they cannot speak either language, only their native mousespeak); and, for travel, by the US Postal Service, on whose trucks the “mouses” hitch rides.
“Mousetale 1” relates the history of the Brigade and introduces Henry, the principal male mouse, and his training and first mission. “Mousetale 2” recounts Henry‛s introduction to Ginger, the principal female mouse, a connection that unfortunately gets off on the wrong paw for them but ends well for several children. “Mousetale 3” tells of Henry and Ginger‛s engagement and marriage and the children saved owing to Ginger‛s intervention. “Mousetale 4” introduces us to a little girl who is in distress on account of her father (and 4 is significant because we make the acquaintance of four identical baby “mouses,” all girls). “Mousetale 5” and “Mousetale 6” take us to the next generation as Henry and Ginger‛s daughters also become members in good standing of the Children‛s Mouse Brigade.
Henry's eyes had begun to glow with astonishment, like when he activated his nocturnal mousevision. He had made quite a name for himself since his first assignment in the Children's Mouse Brigade, the much praised volunteer force dedicated to the well-being of children. And while impressing both the senior mousemasters and the retired mouseketeers that served as auxiliary mentors, young Henry, with his impish smile and sleek gray coat, had turned the eye of many a young lady mouse, both in the Brigade and in the Brigade's Grooming Services. So much so that his aunt Lizzy and his uncle Marty had noticed that of late their nephew seemed to be treating them with an air of superiority and taking their attentions for granted. They had decided that soon one of them would have to give him a good talking-to. But then the SOS, or call for help, had come from Lizzy's cousin Cordelia, who found herself shorthanded in south central Maine, where she had been headquartered for a number of years. Could Lizzy and Marty possibly send her-on temporary duty, of course-a young, energetic, resourceful, and quick-thinking male with at least a dozen assignments under his belt? In other words, one with enough experience not to panic in a tight situation? They turned to each other without hesitation, both thinking immediately of the same individual. Who had graduated first in his class? Who had received four Fleet-of-Foot Plaques? Who had won the most Odoriferous Cheese Awards in the past month or two? Ginger was a fifteen-month-old mouse, the most attractive girl mouse in all of southern Maine. Her long, silky eyelashes attracted boys the way catnip attracted her feline enemies, and although she liked to compete with those very same boys, she also liked to be womanly. I'll do nothing special as far as appearance, she thought the following morning. After all, this is mouse business, but then she put a dab of mousefume behind each ear. Let him see that we country girls can be every bit as ladylike and feminine as our big city counterparts. And upon further consideration, she decided that it wouldn't hurt to apply a touch of mousescara to her eyelashes, to give them a bit of an upturn, and to tie a festive red scarf around her neck to set off her green sweater. She was especially pleased with her scarf because she had knitted it with pieces of yarn that one of her mothers had thrown out. Ginger continued to think while looking at herself in the polished metal button that the girls used as a mirror Well, let's go and meet the city boy. Like Rolanda and Julia, I'm just hoping he'll be a help and not a hindrance . . . or a nuisance.
Robert Fedorchek is a professor emeritus and past chair of the department of modern languages and literatures at Fairfield University, where he taught for thirty-nine years. He holds a BA, MA, and PhD, and has published twenty-two books of translations of Spanish and Portuguese literature, as well as four novels. Fedorchek and his wife, Theresa, live in Fairfield, Connecticut.