Cynthia Voigt crafts a novel about discovery, perspective, and the meaning of home—all through the eyes of an affable and worried little mouse. Fredle is an earnest young fellow suddenly cast out of his cozy home behind the kitchen cabinets—into the outside. It's a new world of color and texture and grass and sky. But with all that comes snakes and rain and lawnmowers and raccoons and a different sort of mouse (field mice, they're called) not entirely trustworthy. Do the dangers outweigh the thrill of discovery? Fredle's quest to get back inside soon becomes a wild adventure of predators and allies, of color and sound, of discovery and nostalgia. And, as Fredle himself will come to understand, of freedom.
"If you will only have one chance, you want to make it the best it can be," reflects the narrator of Newbery Medalist Voigt's (Dicey's Song) adventure centered around Fredle, a curious mouse whose family pushes him out of their kitchen nest after he ventures too far and becomes ill, a process of elimination called "went." "Went was the scariest thing any mouse could do, and the scariest word any mouse spoke or heard, and he had no idea what it was." Brought outside, Fredle begins a harrowing and transformative quest as he fends for himself, after he recovers, with help from a pair of field mice. Fredle's wonder at this new world proves compelling as he encounters the stars, moon, colors, flowers, and giant green stalks (grass), while confronting new predators including raccoons and snakes. Readers will identify with the universal conflict at the heart of Fredle's journey even as he longs for home, he enjoys the newfound freedom and experiences that contrast with the restrictive regulations of his clan. Yates's expressive cartoon spot art counters the book's darker, sadder moments with cheeriness. Ages 8 12.