Kirkus Reviews: Toofer & The Giblet in The Big City

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Toofer & The Giblet in The Big City
Paulette LeBlanc
Illus. by Dmitriy Morozov
$18.99 hardcover
ISBN: 979-8985150711
January 4, 2023


Two country mice explore a fast-paced metropolis in this illustrated middle-grade sequel.

Toofer and his best friend, The Giblet, leave their humble home in tiny Nimblewood for a vacation. They stay in Cousin Harry’s rooftop mouse hole, which overlooks a brightly lit big city filled with perpetually moving giants.The Giblet is all too happy to tour the new location and have Harry show him where all those glorious smells are coming from. They grab food that giants throw away, including pizza and egg rolls, and The Giblet hears, for the first time, something wonderful called music. He relays their adventures to Toofer, who’s turned this trip into a staycation, as he never strays beyond the rooftop. He does, however, meet an unexpectedly kindhearted “tiny giant” at an open window. Although the giants’ pecking order for animals puts mice just above rats, this giant, who’s wearing a glittery blue gown, speaks softly and shares a snack with Toofer. The cautious mouse then decides to check out other windows. He, too, discovers music as well as the joy of dancing as he watches rows of tiny giants leap and spin to melodies, and he soon joins in. The Giblet’s newfound love of the city makes him want to extend his vacation, maybe indefinitely. Meanwhile, Toofer’s rooftop excursions lead him to someone in need of help, putting him face to face with mice’s most infamous enemy and giving him no choice but to prove just how brave he can be.

LeBlanc’s follow-up to Toofer & The Giblet (2021) is just as sweet and entertaining as its predecessor. These personable mice stand on two feet and wear clothes like humans, and their delightful perspective is on full display as they fail to grasp the “language of the giants” and find that going out to dinner is a frenzied, potentially dangerous affair. Nevertheless, much of what Toofer and The Giblet see and experience is affecting. Harry, for example, names off the musical instruments that win over The Giblet, from a “wood-stringer gadget” to a “zebra box.” At the same time, the author keeps younger readers in mind with the inclusion of educational morsels. Although there’s an indisputable fondness for the quiet life on display, this book shows that one’s home can be anywhere that makes one happy, whether it’s in a forest tree or among the “hustle and bustle” of urbanites. It also shines a positive light on other animals, such as city squirrels, though this sequel is missing the varied characters of the series’ first installment, set in Nimblewood. Morozov’s sublime, nuanced watercolor artwork exemplifies the mice’s smallness, as when they use a discarded coffee cup as a stool, and it adds beautiful details, such as the drops of a cold, early morning rain. These illustrations enrich LeBlanc’s pithy writing as they treat readers to images of Toofer’s pince-nez–style glasses on his pink nose and Harry proudly showing off a huge pizza box at a dumpster. Another installment would be welcome to see where these two mice go next.

An endearing tale whose small-scale cast will capture readers’ hearts.



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