Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bless This Mouse

by Lois Lowry
April 13, 2012

A cute but slight story of a group of mice that live in an Episcopal church. Their biggest fear is the Great X (the exterminator) and their most stressful time of year is October. That's when the Blessing of the Pets happens. If it rains on St. Francis' feast day the pet blessing moves indoors. That means many cats will be in the church. Cats - a threat second only to the Great X. It's up to Hildegarde, the mouse mistress of St. Bartholomew to keep order and ensure the safety of the mouse colony there.
I enjoyed this story, but found that it was not at all among Lowry's best. To me the church setting was the most fun, but some of the errors were annoying.  Did Lois Lowry really mean to spell the university library mouse's name "Ignatious"?   As I type this, I see that Blogger has given Lowry's spelling the wiggly red line.

"I'm a saint," he couldn't resist adding. "I mean my name is. Saint Ignatious..."

Another inaccuracy is that Lowry has the priest, Father Murphy, blessing the animals with oil rather than holy water.
"The little boy reached the chancel steps, where Father Murphy was standing. The container of holy oil was beside him on a small table. He dipped his fingers into it. The priest touched the head of the puppy, smiled when it tried to lick his fingers, and murmured, "Bless this pet."

Not only is it oil, it's Chrism:
"What's in there?" Roderick asked when she brought her tail out, dripping.  "Chrism." "Chrism? What's that? As she lowered her tail, he sniffed it. "Smells like the pine trees in the cemetery." "It's holy oil," she told him. "Actually, olive oil scented with balsam..." 
The conclusion of the story doesn't really resolve the issue of The Great X or of the cats in the church. Hildegard receives a blessing from Father Murphy and all is well. Why? How?
It seems as if Lois Lowry had a cute idea for a story but not enough substance to actually make a good story.

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