It’s 1944 and London is under attack. At James Smith and Sons Umbrella Shop, little Pip Hanway lives happily with her mother and father in an antique umbrella until her world is destroyed by a bomb. Orphaned, Pip decides she must find her way to the umbrella museum in Gignese, Italy where she has some family.
Befriended by Dickin, a search and rescue dog, Pip learns she must join the animals of Noah’s Ark, a secret organisation of animals working as resistance fighters, if she is to stand a chance of making it to her new home.
A very enjoyable and exciting adventure story, ‘The Umbrella Mouse’ looks at the role of resistance fighters and the constant perils they faced. The story highlights the work done by rescue dogs and carrier pigeons as well as acknowledging the impact war has on pets as well as humans. Anna Fargher cleverly uses the plight of the animals in her story to parallel those experienced by humans.
‘The Umbrella Mouse’ does not shy away from the darker consequences of resistance work, including the imprisonment and torture of those unlucky enough to be captured. The manipulation of the vulnerable- those who have lost everything and are searching for a new ‘family’ - so that they will join an organisation is also shown through the actions of certain characters. Infiltration and betrayal are also explored.
All of this makes it sound like a very dark and difficult story to read; however, this is far from being the case. Pip is an inspirational character, full of courage and the determination to follow her dreams.
‘You just need to find a little courage in your heart to begin something new’
This advice from her mother carries her through many perilous situations. At times, Pip is reckless, brave with the belief of the young that they are indestructible so that at times her actions endanger others, but her heart is true and loyal. Dickin is another fantastic character whose courage and good heart are up- lifting ad heart warming to read about. Hans might just be my favourite for reasons I can’t explain as it will spoil the book for anyone who has not read it yet.
The book is full of rich descriptions and is a compelling and powerful read. The illustrations really add to the story as we see Pip and her intrepid friends pursue their quest across France. The ending is left open for another adventure for this little mouse… and there is an umbrella museum in Gignese- who knew?!
The Umbrella Mouse Anna Fargher, illustrated by Sam Usher
Macmillan ISBN: 978- 1529003970
To be published May 2nd 2019