What the Second Mouse Had to Tell

What the Second Mouse Had to TellWhat the Second Mouse Had to Tell

It was soon the second mouse’s turn to tell her tale with her tail. She talked of how she had grown up in the library. There, the mice sometimes lacked food, but did not lack for knowledge. They learned many things. When the mouse heard she might have a chance to become queen she asked a wise mouse in the library what to do. She was told to become a poet because poet’s would surely know how to make soup from a sausage skewer.

The mouse soon began on a journey of knowledge. She watched a hill of ants because they are very wise. The ants called their anthill the loftiest thing, but there was a tree nearby that was even loftier. One ant told the rest of the ants that it was not true that their ant hill was the highest thing and nobody believed her. Another ant, much more respected saw the tree and well and told the other ants. She was believed because she was more well-known. The mouse saw that the ant queen had the most knowledge so she gobbled her up.

The mouse then went to speak to the tree, which had a dryad inside of it. The tree told the mouse that a bird came to see it every so often and the mouse determined that it would pluck a feather from the bird and eat it up as well, which she did.

The mouse then returned to the library and ate two whole books and a portion of a third. By that point she considered herself a poet. She could make a string of poetry about anything. The mouse said she could make any poetry for the king about skewers and that was her soup.

It was time for the third mouse’s story.

Observations

There is something of a belief, in some cultures, that if you eat something up, you gain its power. This is true to an extent. If you eat a strawberry, you gain whatever antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrition that strawberry contained, but that’s where the truth ends. You can’t eat a cow and gain the cow’s knowledge of what type of grass tastes the best. The idea that this mouse gained the knowledge it had from an ant, a feather, and three books, is just silly. What this mouse probably got was indigestion.

You cannot eat a person or a creature and gain its knowledge, sorry all you cannibal tribes, that’s just not the way it works.

36c352bda108829db33f0c9032a8d467Themes

Clearly there is some dispute over how to make soup with a sausage skewer. Everyone keeps coming back with their own versions of what this means. This mouse sought out an interesting, but strange path, to understand how to make soup from a sausage skewer.

I am still having a hard time getting over the idea that this mouse thought it could gobble up things to gain knowledge. That’s just not how it works. The previous mouse went on a journey as well, but you didn’t see her eating things to gain their knowledge. This entire story is about differences between people and interpretations, but it’s also about differences in how people get to the same destination in different ways. Both the mice thus far have arrived at a similar determination, but they did so in completely different ways.

Mice are not human, but we’re human, and that’s how we work. You take the high road and I’ll take the low road, you know, all that jazz.

Overall

Oh, you know all the capitals of all the countries, interesting. *sharpens knife and fork*

That’s just gross.

Weigh In

So if you eat a burrito, what kind of knowledge do you gain?

Seriously, how much Alka seltzer did this mouse need?

 

#481 The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Ironwood Tree by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi

The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Ironwood Tree by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizziThe Spiderwick Chronicles: The Ironwood Tree by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi

On with it.

In this installment of the series we find the grace children in an absence of fairy activity. They’re going to one of Mallory’s fencing matches. Maybe she likes the captain of the fencing team and maybe she doesn’t. The fencing match goes well. Mallory wins, but Jared sees someone getting into Mallory’s bag that isn’t Mallory. He tries to find out who it is, but he is not allowed near the fencers. There is a something that is there that looks just like him. He gets in trouble for pulling a pocket knife on the something. Things soon get worse.

They realize Mallory is gone. They find a note. They go to the quarry they passed on the way to the school. There they find an entrance into a land of dwarves, where they are summarily taken captive. They bargain for their sister who has been preserved in a box looking like a sleeping princess. They trick their way out of the cage they’re in and then fight their way out, but only after waking up their sleeping princess. The dwarves work for Mulgarath. Everything is happening right now. They know they have to go home to find their mother.

What I liked

I liked the descriptions of the things the dwarves made. They seem very handy. The ironwood tree they made sounds really impressive. The dog they made sounds like the dog from Fahrenheit 451, but not quite as deadly. I liked the mechanical dogs ended up being playful instead of deadly.

My brother plays World of Warcraft. In the game the gnomes make these awesome looking mechanical birds. This book reminds me of that bit of the game.

I like that Mallory fences. I think it’s a unique hobby for a girl to have. There is actually a place down the road that teaches fencing and I’m tempted.

What I didn’t like

Perhaps I’ve tinkered too much in the world of Middle-Earth, but I don’t see dwarves as being evil as they are in this story. They definitely have the hallmarks of dwarves from folklore, but they’re bad. These are bad dwarves. They enslave people, work for a bad guy, and want to take over the world. That’s not what I would call very friendly, but nobody ever said dwarves had to always be the good guys. If you’ve read about Thorin and his struggles with addiction to the Arkenstone, you’ll understand.

Overall

I want to play fetch with a mechanical dog.


The Old Woman in the Wood

The Old Woman in the WoodThe Old Woman in the Wood

If you like trees this might be a story for you. I like trees, trees are neat.

Once upon a time there was a young woman who was traveling in a great forest with a family she served. While the party was traveling in the woods robbers ambushed the party and murdered everyone in sight, except for the young woman. She leapt out of the carriage and hid behind a tree and the robbers did not see her.

She was very sad that everyone had been murdered as she surveyed the carnage. She determined to sit under a tree and stay there and let what happened happen. After she had sat there a while, a white dove flew down with a key. It gave the key to the young woman and told her to use it to unlock a tree the dove indicated. Inside the tree would be enough food that the young woman would not be hungry. The young woman unlocked the tree and found bread and milk.

The girl was tired after this and was determined to find somewhere to sleep. The dove flew down once more with another key. The dove told her to open a different tree. Inside she would find a bed. The girl did open the tree and found a beautiful white bed. There she slept.

In the morning the dove came again. It gave her another key and told her in a different tree she would find clothes. She did this and found the most beautiful clothes. They were set with jewels and gold. The girl lived in the forest for a while. Each day the dove came and gave her everything she needed.

One day the dove came to her and asked her a favor. The girl agreed right away. The dove told her that she must go to a small house where a woman would be. The woman would speak to her, but the girl was not to respond. There would be a door that led to a different room. The girl must go in the other room and there would be many rings in there. The girl was to look for a plain ring amongst all the beautiful rings. When she found the ring she was supposed to take it to the dove as soon as possible.

The girl did as asked. She went to the house. The witch said good day, but the girl did not answer. The witch told her to go away, but she did not listen. The witch grabbed the girl’s gown, but the girl got away. The girl managed to get past the witch and into the other room. There were beautiful rings on a table there. The girl looked through them, but they were all ornate and not one of them was plain. She soon spied the witch, who was trying to get away with a bird cage. The girl followed after her.

The girl took the cage from the witch. There was a bird inside with a plain ring in its beak. The girl took the ring and went back to her spot in the forest. The girl thought the dove would come right away, but it did not. She sat down and leaned against a tree to wait for it. As she sat there the tree softened and twined around her. She was surprised because the branches weren’t branches anymore, but arms.

The tree was now a handsome man who embraced her and kissed her. The man told the girl that she had released him from the curse she was under. He was turned into a tree by the witch  and was able to be a dove for two hours each day. As long as the witch possessed the ring he was not able to turn back into a human. His servants and horses had also been turned into trees, but they were returned to their proper form. They went back to his kingdom, he was a prince, and they got married.

The End

The Old Woman in the WoodObservations

I really like trees, so I do like this story. I have a very large tree in my front yard that has to be a hundred years old or so. It’s a nice tree. I also have another tree that has mistletoe on it. Then there is the big tree with ivy all over it. Then there are the pecan trees. Then there are the two sugar maple trees. There are also some American chestnut trees. That’s just a few of the trees I have. Trees are great. In my dream house I would have a library that had a tree in the middle and inside of that tree would be a reading nook.

Usually when someone is turned into something else in the Grimm’s anthology they’ve been turned into an animal not a plant. Well, that isn’t necessarily true. There are times when people have been turned into roses and thorns. That’s usually two people though when that happens. This is the first time I have encountered someone being turned into a tree in the Grimm’s stories though. I do recall the juniper tree. Though in that story no one was necessarily turned into a tree.

We’ve got a magic ring again. I do have to wonder if all the other rings the witch had also represented people. She must have been a slow witch if the girl was able to catch up with her so easily.

Themes

We have common elements in this story such as being cursed into another object, a witch, a magic ring, a bird, a white dove, and so on. They’re all themes in a way. I don’t really see a lesson in this story. There isn’t a moral. It is a nice story, but there isn’t really anything to learn.

I will mention that the girl is willing to repay the dove for its kindness. This dove does save this girl’s life. She would have died had she been left in the forest alone. When the dove asks a favor the girl is willing without even hearing what it is the dove requests. She says yes right away. She agrees. Sometimes you have to owe something to someone when they help you out. Things end up ok for this girl. She repays her debt and is rewarded in the end. It doesn’t always end up like that, but even if it ends up bad, you should still remember to repay your debts.

Overall

I like how this guy was a tree. I wonder if all the other trees the girl unlocked were also people. That would be a bit weird.