Time Stops for No Mouse
A Hermux Tantamoq Adventure
by Michael Hoeye
HERMUX TANTAMOQ - he is the nice calm quiet clockmaker who gets all mixed up in an adventure because he sees people doing something wrong and he wants to help fix it.
MIRRIN STENTRILL - the famous painter who shows her best friend Hermux how to understand what is beautiful.
PUP SCHOONAGLIFFEN - the very eager young mole reporter who helps Hermux through many tight situations.
LINKA PERFLIGER - the famous adventuress who flies all over the world until she disappears without the watch Hermux has fixed for her.
TUCKA MERTSLIN - the mean fashionista who runs an evil empire of cosmetics and tries to ruin everyone's lives for her money.
This book is filled with love! Love for every person and tiny thing in the book. He is picking out each word very carefully, so that you know exactly what he means. He loves to make things beautiful. He loves each one of the mice and moles and rats and voles and he shows you compassion for every one of them, even the evil ones. Everyone is a part of the story for all of the good things they can bring to it.
There is a lot to love in the story. I love Terfle the pet ladybug most of all of them. Second most I love Hermux because he is nice and noble and polite to everyone and he tries very hard to be the best mouse he can. Third most I love Mirrin because she knows and teaches people how to love all the tiny details in life and to appreciate everything and be happy.
Michael Hoeye has the perfect writing style for this book or for writing kids' books in general. He has a very careful and calm writing style. He uses a lot of short sentences. Even sentence fragments. It makes the book calmer. It gives you time to look at all of the beautiful things he shows us.
He stepped out of the elevator and crept toward the door to his apartment as quietly as a mouse.
He carefully took out his ring of keys. He sorted past the silver key to his bicycle, the round key to his store, the little gold key to his safe, the silvery square-topped key to his locker at the gymnasium, the oval-shaped key to his file cabinet, and finally reached the double-sided brass key that opened the door to his apartment.
He slipped the key carefully into the lock and turned it cautiously.
I never noticed so many details in the world!
When there are not already pretty things to show us, he makes some up. He makes up pet ladybugs who eat special treats made of pear twigs and crunchy mussel scales. He makes up an opera with a beautiful gypsy moth who has to throw herself into a fire so the forest can live. And he makes up names like Linka and Ortolina and Dandiffer and Reezor Bleesom.
He is also as careful with the food for mice as he is with the food for pet ladybugs. They have figwort jelly and hearts of elm and tiny pots of extra-stinky cheese. And tons and tons of doughnuts! The doughnuts are a good way of showing how he makes it work for kids and grownups at the same time:
Hermux squeezed onto a seat at the counter. His feet barely reached the foot rail. "What kind of donuts do you have this morning?" he asked brightly.
"We've got plain and glazed. Cake and raised. Chocolate and coconut. Maple and walnut," Lanayda told him.
"In that case, I'll have a plain, cake, chocolate donut. For here."
"Plain, cake, chocolate. For here!" Lanayda yelled, and moments later a white china saucer holding a plain, cake, chcolate donut slid onto the counter through a slot in the wall. It was followed by a steaming mug of coffee....
He sipped his coffee happily. Dark and bitter. And then he took a small bit of donut and let the sweet chocolate drive the bitterness away.
It is very metaphorical and also very simple and slow-paced and good. The book is exciting and slow at the same time so it is very calm and makes your inside kid very happy.
Lessons to Learn
Hoeye is also a good teacher.
He teaches us about how to make good things to eat. It is not a recipe book; it is about adding nice things like a garnish or a pretty bowl to make it part of a big special meal for yourself. Hermux did not just eat cheese, he ate slices of cheese with slices of apple and a steaming cup of tea. And he did not just eat soup....
The soup was bubbling furiously on the stove. He turned it off and took down from the cabinet a large bowl the color of a midnight sky. Around its rim marched a line of white ducks drawn with egg-yolk yellow feet and bills and jet black eyes.
"Watch out, ducks!" cried Hermux, ladling the steaming soup into the bowl.
Hermux does not stop with food; he is learning to see all the special things in every part of life around him. He learns a lot about how to find reasons to like even bad people and things, and how to find happiness in everything about life. He starts a journal where every day he writes about what he is thankful for:
Thank you for friendship most of all. Thank you for cuff links. And for singing larks dressed up like carnival moths. Thank you for dark theaters. For mousetraps even. Thank you for Terfle. For cotton sheets and soft pillows and apple juice. And cheese.
Hoeye teaches us all of these things by showing them happening in Hermux's life... and how to take care of a pet ladybug!
But with all this calmness and these details it is not boring or slow. There is danger! Excitement! Plot twists that twist around and around! Giant terrifying mouse traps that will crush you whole!
And since everyone is reading Harry Potter now and the Dark Materials books it is more than time for grownups to be able to read all the supposedly just-for-kids books that they need. It will give you dignity and calm and excitement and interesting people and stuff to learn for your life instead of grinding scary boring plots that are the same in every law mystery book people take to the beach.
Tiny Glittering Details
And there is a lot more writing about the world than you get in every fantasy book people read! In a lot of science fiction or fantasy books the elves or mice or faeries or telepathic horses are just like us and there is barely any difference except for a few stupid jokes. Like in Disney movies, where the authors can not decide whether they are making a movie about animals or humans, and then the stuff about animals has no point because they might as well be humans. Michael Hoeye really thinks a lot about how his animals are the same as us and what makes them different.
They exercise on exercise wheels, but in gyms and health spas. They still say things like "quiet as a mouse," and they have the same stereotypes as we do about rats. But for them, those stereotypes are not just sayings, they are discrimination and the different animals have to fight against those ideas.
"I have a bad feeling about this Gaspell Bermillonk," Hermux told Terfle, closing the journal and rubbing his eyes. "And I'm not saying that because he's a gopher. There was a gopher family in Tucka's apartment for years before she bought them out. And they were perfectly nice. Although I can't say I miss the smell of boiled lily tubers."
Time Stops for No Mouse is full of ideas like that, where Hoeye uses something that we are used to in our human world but turns it around a little and thinks a lot about how it will look in their world. He is very consistent: he does not just put clothes on animals wherever they sort of look funny so that we have to wonder why ducks don't wear pants but mice do. Everybody wears pants, and all our other clothes, and some of them wear makeup. And he shows us how it works for them, how they think so much about clothes that Hermux has to check what they wear in the city of Couver when he is pretending to be from there. And then he shows us stuff about ourselves, like when he uses Tucka's fashion sense to make fun of human high fashion runways.
As he walked along the busy street, he was greeted by a curious apparition. A tall woman wearing an odd hat shaped like a pair of bat wings hobbled toward him clumsily, supporting herself with two canes. Her feet and ankles were encased in bandages and she seemed to be walking on the very tips of her toes.
"She must have had a nasty fall," thought Hermux. And then he recognized her. It was Tucka. Without thinking he rushed toward her.
"Ms. Mertslin! My goodness! I am so awfully sorry! I had no idea!" he stammered.
Tucka balanced herself with her canes and peered down at him. "What on earth are you babbling about?" she demanded.
"Your feet," he said desperately. "The umbrella stand. I'm afraid you've broken your ankles."
"Mr. Tantamoq, you're an even bigger idiot than I supposed. I have not broken my ankles, I am advocating a more etheral approach to footwear. I am evoking an image of weightlessness and fragility."
"But you look very uncomfortable doing it."
Their houses and stores are like ours, but sometimes they run into things like waterspouts that seem human-sized. But humans are never ever mentioned, and cats are just a scary myth from a long time ago. There are lots of little furry animals living here, but they are almost all rodents. It seems like every book releases a tiny bit more about this complex world that he's carefully put together behind our backs. Why are there no more cats? Is it Earth or another place? Is it our Earth or another dimension? Is it way in the future when humans are all forgotten and mice rule the waves and all they remember of us is sweaters and tea?
This book is wonderful because it is filled with wonder. It is the story of a tiny mouse wandering along always trying to do the right thing and getting mixed up in gorgeous stories and fantastic adventures inside his regular everyday life. Terrible bad things happen, and stressful exciting dangerous things happen, and narrow escapes are made over and over again. And always there is time to think and relax and learn new things and eat a snack inbetweentimes. So there is no need to worry about anything, just have a big adventure. Like the rating on the back of the book says, it is Not Too Scary, and it is very good.
Carefully copyright tested!