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The Umbrella Mouse

The Umbrella Mouse

Published: 2 May 2019

Paperback / softback, 288 pages

Recommended for age 9+ and 11+

By Anna Fargher

Illustrated by Sam Usher

Published by Pan Macmillan

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A timeless tale of courage, resistance and friendship, The Umbrella Mouse is a heart-stopping adventure drawing on the true stories of animals caught in the conflict of WWII, winner of the 2019 Sainsbury's Book Prize for Fiction and selected for Waterstones Book of the Month. 1944, and London is under attack. Young mouse Pip Hanway's safe and quiet world is turned upside down when her home, umbrella shop James Smith & Sons, is destroyed by a bomb.

Orphaned and alone, she must begin a perilous quest to find a new home. But the only way to get there is by joining Noah's Ark, a secret gang of animals fighting with the resistance in France, operating beneath the feet of the human soldiers. Danger is everywhere and as the enemy closes in, Pip must risk everything to save her new friends.

Beautifully illustrated by Sam Usher, Anna Fargher's debut novel takes you on an incredible journey through a war that reaches even the smallest of creatures.
This title features in our Reading Gladiators™ selection.
This title features in our The Reading Journey selection.

Tagged animals , belonging , courage , hope , resilience and Second World War

The Umbrella Mouse series

The Umbrella Mouse
Umbrella Mouse to the Rescue
Anna Fargher, author of The Umbrella Mouse and The Umbrella Mouse to the Rescue talks to Nikki Gamble about the wartime inspiration behind her stories and the family history that sparked her interest.

Reviewed by Simone Goward

Umbrella Mouse to the Rescue is the sequel to the award-winning Umbrella Mouse. Set during WW2, intrepid little mouse Pip, finds herself caught up once more with Animal Ark. Unbeknown to humans, this network of fearless animals supports the French Resistance in their fight to liberate France.

Often, books written by British authors are set in the UK and focus on children living through the blitz or experiencing evacuation. In contrast, the setting of this story offers a glimpse of the Nazi occupation of France. This historical viewpoint is likely to be new to a British middle-grade audience, making it a good book to have as part of a WW2 collection in UKS2. It may be beneficial for children to have some background knowledge of the role of the French Resistance and the Nazi’s occupation of France. Without a basic understanding, the story could be confusing to less experienced readers as they keep hold of a fast-paced plot and its historical context.

The story contains, or references, a large number of characters and their backstories. This may be demanding for less confident readers or those who haven’t read the first book. However, it shouldn’t prove too challenging for more experienced readers.

At its heart, this is a story about friendship and putting others before yourself. It’s an ideal book for fluent UKS2 readers who love anthropomorphic adventures or a historical novel from an original perspective.

I am a KS2 teacher and English coordinator working in a Shropshire primary school. When not reading something from my tottering TBR pile, you'll find me mooching around bookshops trying to find something to add to it.