A chase, a ride, a chase and hide, and Milton the mouse lands in new territory: the Stewart household. The wily escape artist has the run of the house until one fateful night when he is caught. What do you do with a mouse that hitches a ride home from a camping trip? Feed it? Turn it loose in a strange landscape? Will Milton be happy in captivity?
The children give him a cage, a nest, a wheel, and water. Matt plays Beethoven on the piano for him, and Kathleen composes a song about him. “O fie my wandering mouse, how thou dost stray” is all that Dad will say. Milton is content until one day the wild life beckons again, and he escapes. How will the children find him? Will they discover Milton’s secret?
. . . Milton the mouse’s connection with music is heartwarming and satisfying, and the low-stakes storyline makes for a peaceful, pleasant reading experience. The details of Milton’s natural behavior feel realistic and well-researched, as does the ambiance of the Nevada desert setting . . .
Comments from Readers
➥ Milton will capture readers’ imaginations. He is a mouse with spunk and adaptability. I love how Milton recites pieces of poetry as a way to express his feelings. The additional facts at the end can entice those nonfiction fans of all ages. Janice Kirk, thank you for taking us on this adventure.
Karen A. Sorvaag, Saint Mary’s University, MN
➥ Jan Kirk ‘s children’s book Milton the Mouse is full of adventure and fun! I can just picture Milton as he scurries in and out of trouble. The snippets of John Milton’s poetry and Beethoven’s piano works give the story an additional element that will hopefully make children curious about these two great men and their works. I can’t wait to read it to my grandchildren!
Cindy Johnson, retired public school orchestra teacher, Winona Public Schools, MN
➥ Janice Kirk ‘s first children’s book, Milton the Mouse, is a delightful bedtime read. It offers a glimpse into the adventures of a white-footed deer mouse that learns to love Beethoven sonatas and John Milton couplets after hitching a ride to the city, far from his Great Basin Desert burrow. This captivating tale is perfect for children ages 6 to 12. Even adults will enjoy the Fun Facts appendix.
George L. Winship, editor, writer, researcher, and musical performance critic; The Village Wordsmith
Ken McCullough, Poet Laureate, Winona, MN reviews Milton the Mouse:
Milton the Mouse, Janice Kirk. Resource Publications.
It is said that the family that prays together stays together. It might also be said that the family that plays together stays together—what better way to play together than on extended camping trips. The family in Janice Kirk’s Milton the Mouse, the Stewarts (stewards), goes on such trips and on these trips they explore the fauna and fauna they encounter—the father is a biologist, who also recites passages from John Milton, his “old friend;” thus, the children, Matt and his younger sister Kathleen, get to hear words from one of the consummate masters. One assumes that these words will register in their minds and will most likely be passed down to their own children when that time comes, perpetuating an appreciation for the power of words. Incidentally, regarding praying together, one might note that the author’s last name “Kirk,” is the Scottish word for “church.” To some degree, the Stewart family worships in the church of nature. The dynamics of the family are clearly established in the first chapter of the book. We experience the interchange of, father, mother, benevolent older brother, and younger sister and the scenes are almost cinematic in the way they play out.
The mother is an artist, and makes sure that Matt and Kathleen always have the materials to document what they encounter on their travels. She also functions as a kind of foil for the other family members, by presenting motherly cautions such as the fact that Milton may be a carrier of the hantavirus. The mouse from whom the book takes its title is named after John Milton, of course. Milton joins the family as a stowaway on one of their camping trips and becomes a participant in their day-to-day life. Speaking of mice, this book is not a Beatrix Potter knock-off nor does it purport to be. It puts the reader in a real world setting yet does not pander to the “consumer-gatherer” mentality, laced with video games, movie references and what passes for popular music. The only concession to popular culture is comic books. The Stewarts have healthy preoccupations such as reading and classical music and the dynamics of the family are cordial and natural—there is no dark or perplexing issue underlying the story.
Milton is identified as a white-footed deer mouse, and has mouse habits—even though he is somewhat anthropomorphized in that he understands English and is taken in by music, although most people who’ve been around wild animals often enough know that they sometimes respond to music. Milton is captivated by the music that Matt plays on piano and on his record player. Nonetheless, Milton remembers his “home”: and its environs and ultimately wants to go back to that life. The family cat Bertha is Milton’s nemesis, and Bertha acts as any cat would, looking at Milton as a potential plaything or prey-thing.
The book is entertaining, delightful and well-written. It presents an example of a family that functions in a refreshingly traditional way. It presents information on such practical issues as live-trapping and proper care of pets. Music is a thread throughout the book; in fact, the book ends with the words and music to the song “Milton the Mouse,” the words adapted from John Milton. The book has a charming appendix that includes facts about white-footed deer mice, Ludwig van Beethoven and John Milton. Milton the Mouse would be a challenge for young readers but the rewards are many. It’s also a pleasant book for adults to read to children.
–Ken McCullough, Poet Laureate, Winona, MN
Green Gables Book Reviews, June 5, 2019:
Milton the Mouse by Janice E. Kirk is a story that was mailed to me by Blue Cottage Agency on behalf of the Author. I enjoyed this cute story! I think the perfect audience would be Elementary age kids. I kind of wish school was still in session to read it to a group of young students!-Janell Madison
Milton the Mouse is a really cute story. It starts out as a family is on the last night of their camping trip and Milton ends up in their vehicle. Before long he is in Mom’s purse and ends up in their house. This is a fun story about trying to keep Milton as a pet mouse, and the adventures of trying to get him into a cage, trying to keep him safe from Bertha, and learning about his love for music. I liked when the Author shared the dialogue of what Milton was saying in response to things happening around him. I found myself wanting to read more of his thoughts. Milton is a fun character in this story.
The Author has added great facts at the end of the book that go with the story-facts about White-Footed Deer Mice, composer Ludwig Van Beethoven and Poet John Milton.
I think this is a story that would hold the interest of the kids listening to it, or ones that are reading it themselves.
If you need a book for an Elementary age child, this might be one to get!