Friday, June 8, 2007


PUBLISHER: Archaia Studios Press
GENRE: Modern Fantasy

ISSUE: Covering issues 1-6
FORMAT: Hardback
PAGES: 192 pages
COLOR: Full Color
ISBN-13: 978-1-932386-57-8

Anthropomorphic Animals
Self-Defensive Sword Fights

Mice have their own society, buried in the world of wilderness and men. Susceptible to attacks from beasts and harsh living conditions, the mice formed a protective group of soldiers, leaders, and guides known as the Mouse Guard.

Fearless, dutiful, honorable, and loyal, the Mouse Guard protect their society from all that threaten to end their existence. In this case, the turmoil does not come from an attack from outside; the Mouse Guard are faced with treachery from within. Someone is plotting against the guard in order to take over mouse society. Lieam, Saxon and Kenzie, the best of the Mouse Guard set out to foil the plot and set things right again.

Great literature is a privilege to read, and I count myself lucky that I have been able to experience David Petersen’s MOUSE GUARD. Petersen has tapped into my childhood need for legendary tales of long ago and created a truly beautiful piece of children’s literature.

The story is not rushed and the plot is not compromised in order to crank out a story full of flat characters and ridiculous action aimed at inattentive and impatient readers. Petersen takes his time and allows the characters and story to develop. The characters talk and think, feel and act. They also fight. It is a modern animal fantasy story, so there is enough action for anyone to enjoy. The story is not about the fighting or the action, however. It is a classic story about heroes and honor.

Petersen is not only the writer, but he is the illustrator as well. The art is as solid as the writing. I was showing this book to my daughter (first grade) and her friend (fourth grade). The fourth grader peered at the illustrations and immediately commented that it looked like an old story. A great compliment I would think. An ancient story deserves art to match and Petersen has certainly done so. That old world feel, I believe, is achieved with Petersen’s use of hatching to give the characters and objects texture. The colors are rich and detailed. Detailed in the fact that nothing has a solid color, but is varied and has depth. This is comic art at its greatest.

The book is exquisitely bound and presented with a dust jacket, making it an excellent piece which will hold up to the wear and tear of the classroom for many years.

Notice the old-world feeling
achieved through Peterson's art.

Here is an example of
some of the violence in the

Nothing is left out in the
rendering of the art.

This is an example of the
prose pages.

My Rating: Ages 6 and older
All Ages Reads: Ages 6 and older
Comics in the Classroom: Ages 10 and older

This is not a violent book exactly, but it is a fantasy story and it has Tolkienesque violence. Specifically it has violence that leads to death, but the scenes are very well crated and short. It is kin to such extraordinary children’s classics such as THE HOBBIT. Sometimes violence in a book is enough to warrant reservations. Violence, gratuitous violence, can also lead a book to not be recommended. Not so with MOUSE GUARD. What little violence is present is tasteful and relevant.

Like any book, know your child. Some kids will be ready for this book – will crave this book. Others will not be ready for it. I have read it to my 6-year-old daughter and she iked it. I think she had a hard time understanding some aspects of the story such as treachery, but that will come as her reading comprehension increases.

This book is a perfect example of high quality children’s literature. The story and the art lend itself to many uses in the classroom. This book is sure to spark interest and creativity.

The next six books in the series, titled Winter 1152, begin in July 2007.

Best Indie Adventure Book of 2006 – Wizard Magazine
Best Mini-Series of 2006 – Metro News, Canada
Best Indie Book of the Year –
and several other awards

The name of the character, Lieam, is pronounced (Lee-am)
The name of the city, Celanawe, is pronounced (Kel-an-awe)

A map of the land is presented as well as some details about specific towns. Peterson also included some fan art.

Highly Recommended
David Petersen’s MOUSE GUARD is one of the greats among children’s literature. It is THE HOBBIT for the children’s graphic literature genre and is a must-have for any library.

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