The Secret of the Ginger Mice by Frances Watts

The first book in the projected Song of the Winns series, The Secret of the Ginger Mice features mouse triplets Alex, Alice, and Alistair in an adventure that spans three mouse kingdoms but places the three mice right back where they started by the end of the story. That circularity was my only complaint about this book. The triplets and a new friend, Tibby Rose, travel all over the place, getting in and out of one predicament after another, but they really don’t seem to make much progress in distance or in increased knowledge for all their work. They don’t accomplish much of anything, and almost everything they learn could have just as easily been learned by staying home and asking a few pointed questions.

Still, if you want to go along for the ride, it’s not a bad ride. At the beginning of the book, Alistair, the ginger-colored one of the triplets, disappears in the middle of the night. Alex and Alice, of course, go off to find their beloved brother, even though they’ve been told to stay home and let the adults, their aunt and uncle, handle the missing mouse hunt. Alice and Alex are chased by a pair of evil kidnappers (or are they?), and Alistair finds himself in the kingdom of Souris where everyone hates and fears ginger-colored mice for some reason. All of the mystery and adventure and danger has something to do with the nearby kingdom of Gerander, where the triplets’ parents disappeared, believed to be dead, many years ago.

The characters, Alex, Alice, Alistair, and Tibby Rose, not to mention Uncle Ebenezer and Aunt Beezer, are rather endearing, and I can see some children falling in love with these mouse-adventurers, even naming their pets after them. I didn’t fall in love, and I felt the book went on a little too long, but as I said before it’s a decent journey. I’d recommend it to fans of Brian Jacques’ Redwall series, although this first book in this series is a little younger in focus than the Jacques series.

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