Bernard Pepperlin

HarperCollins//Harper. Sept. 2019. 224p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062865441.
Gr 2-5–Fond memories of Lewis Carroll’s classic novel (or perhaps nostalgia for the Disney movie) will entice readers to pick up this book, which follows the Dormouse of Mad Hatter’s tea party as he plunges deep into the teapot and out into...present-day Manhattan! At first, Dormouse (now known as Bernard Pepperlin, and how he thrills at the sound of someone asking his name!) is delighted to have escaped from the endless tea party and explore this new environment, but he soon discovers that there is a dastardly plan afoot to destroy his new home. With his new friends—enigmatic Mittens, a battle-scarred cat, and a brave and optimistic lizard named Ivy—Bernard hopes to inspire the animals to band together. But will they be able to overcome their apathy to defeat the Pork Pie Gang? Hoffman cleverly mingles familiar themes and tropes from Carroll’s famous novel with wry humor, whether it’s world domination via ukulele or business-suited mice rushing about on Wall Street. This is a whimsical tribute to the magic and wonder of Carroll, but also an adventure-filled allegory of our present-day rush and failure to communicate; humans don’t even notice a cockroach jazz quartet on the subway because they are too immersed in their own lives. Readers who like their fantasy concrete and thoroughly explained might get a little frustrated with the vague, metaphorical ways animals and humans coexist in this version of reality, but fans of unique and realistic fantasy will enjoy this book.
VERDICT A fun and intriguing read for strong younger readers and reluctant older readers who want a dash of adventure with their anthropomorphic characters. A great read-alike for fans of Roald Dahl, E.B. White, and Katherine Applegate.

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