This traditional Native American story tells of a mouse who leaves his communal nest in the roots of a tree in order to seek the source of the roaring noise that fills his head, yet seems imperceptible to his mates. Outside, with the help of other animals, he discovers the great river, and in the course of risking a giant leap skywards, he catches a glimpse of the sacred mountains. He is so inspired by the scale of the outside world that when he returns home to rhapsodise about it, he is ostracised. He decides to leave the nest for ever, braving the vigilant eagles in order to devote his life to seeking out the source of the river in the sacred mountains.
The book is a pleasant object to handle: a squarish hardback with glossy pages and clear typography, telling a detailed story without cluttering the page. The illustrations are a mix of line drawings and paintings, many of them in porthole view, as if to imitate visions of a vast world seen from a constricted space. The text is rather long-winded, but gathers pace as Jumping Mouse’s pilgrimage becomes more and more dangerous and sacramental. This would be a good book to read aloud. Many children will empathise with Jumping Mouse’s longing for freedom and the loneliness it brings, while the poignant transformation in the final pages should prompt some earnest speculation.