Title: The Adventures of Geraldine Woolkins
Author: Karin Kaufman
Goodreads rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I read this charming book back in 2018, when my kids were quite young, but I never got around to posting the review. Back then, I had read it aloud to my kids, known on my blog as La Niña and El Niño, and they both enjoyed it thoroughly. Before long, they had become the characters, La Niña was Geraldine, and El Niño was Button, and by extension, I was Lily and the Husband was Nigel.
Geraldine Woolkins is a little mouse who lives with her father Nigel, mother Lily and brother Button in a hole in a tree.
In time she learns the importance of remembering the lessons from her past, how eating too many dandelions had caused her stomach to do flip-flops. Her parents teach her to enjoy nature in all its forms, squishy and scratchy.
After a fire burns their tree down, Lily reminds her daughter, We can always start again… as long as we’re all together.
Geraldine wants to be brave. But she is small and quivering. A dreaded fox, Quinton Thrasher turns into her protector for the kindness shown by her father to him, a reminder that no good deed goes unrewarded.
There isn’t a real plot. But things happen, and the characters do what they do.
The Book of Tales is their wise book from which lessons are taught and passed on. The book contains stories of other animals that Geraldine and Button can learn from.
So many useful lessons within its pages. This is good advice for little mice and little humans too. How the paths we walk have been made by mice who lived before us and how we should learn from older folk and their experience. How you can’t know everything at once, knowledge takes time. When you’re a mid mouse, you’ll know these things. About the seasons and the regularity of nature, the mice learn, Nothing that God makes is taken away forever. The need to show gratitude before one partakes of a feast. Grace first, spoon down.
There are other lessons about not clinging to the past or chasing after the future. Lessons that could be easily extrapolated to the human condition.
Geraldine reflects on the things her parents tell her. Sometimes she has to think a lot before things make sense.
And what an endearing name for God, Very Very Big Hands, who can hold the world together and still care for the wellbeing of very very small mice.
When I read aloud that Geraldine’s mother wiped her hand on a leaf, La Niña said, in awe, “She has so many handkerchiefs,” unwittingly learning a lesson about the abundance in nature. Both kids talked about how it felt to have this book read aloud to them, like being enveloped in love and comfort.
This story was just brimming over with lessons. When Geraldine says that she does not like not-happy endings and when she and Button are impatient to reach the end of the story, Mama scolds them, The story takes as long as it takes, and no less. She adds, You must learn to let a story be… It ends when it ends. Not before and not after.
Geraldine also learns that Not all adventures are happy from beginning to end… Sometimes the very best adventures have sad parts. She believes, True stories were the best stories.
There are lessons everywhere and Nigel and Lily are wise parents, using the Book and every opportunity to share their values. Echoing Ecclesiasticus, Papa tells Geraldine, There’s a time to stay near the hollow, and a time to leave it. He warns, Don’t gather so many berries, you can’t carry your backpack.
Life can be full of dangers, especially when you’re a little mouse, but Papa says, There’s no adventure without peril. He also tells her not to be boastful, that the best she can do is try.
I liked the way the author described the manner in which Geraldine’s father opened the Book, wide, like the juiciest of walnuts. And Geraldine loved the very sound of the stories’ words and the way she felt when Papa closed the book and all was well.
This book is a treat for young kids.
(I read this book on NetGalley. Thank you to the author, the publisher and NetGalley.)