Voight, Cynthia. Young Fredle. Illustrated by Louise Yates. Knopf, 2011.
Although the jacket art and sweet drawings make this look like a book for young readers, the 240 page length make it clear that this is for the same kind of readers who devour Avi's Tales of Dimwood Forest books (Poppy et al) or Kate Dicamillo's The Tale of Despereaux. The exotic hazards of being a tiny creature in a large world also bring to mind Mary Norton's The Borrowers, and Fredle's adventures and the fascinating, eccentric creatures he meets remind me a bit of Russell Hoban's A Mouse and His Child. Fredle learns quite a bit from everyone he meets, from the brave, quarrelsome, hungry raccoons with their hooting laughter to sweet and loyal dog Sadie, and he realizes that life is full of wonders and should not be avoided or denied through timidity or fear. (we shy readers need to be reminded of that every once in a while, as well)
Though not every character is memorable, Fredle certainly stands out as a mouse of stature and worth - kids will enjoy getting to know him. Recommended for ages 9 to 12.