Hidden in the broom cupboard of Rose Cottage is the most delightful little house.
Shh, it’s a secret. No one knows it’s there... This is the home of Tumtum and Nutmeg... When Arthur and Lucy are sent to stay with their Uncle Jeremy at the seaside, Tumtum and Nutmeg decide to go along and keep an eye on them. But then the mice stumble upon an abandoned doll’s house and a mysterious treasure map - and all sorts of adventures unfold!
©2010 Emily Bearn (P)2010 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
TV-free, Battery-operated-toy-shunning, Natural-ish Mama
If you are the PARENT of a little kid (ages 4-9?) who likes audiobooks, and you feel like you are constantly hard up to find age-appropriate books in which the characters are not only likeable, but admirable, who treat each other with kindness and compassion (for example, in sibling relationships), and do not use the word "stupid" at least seven times in each paragraphy a la "Judy Moody" (gag!), AND in which the story lines are adventurous, fun, and fast-paced, well, I feel your pain, because so am I.
And if you ARE an audiobook loving kid who wants to listen to something fun, with a bit of a mystery, and a mix of human and talking-animal characters, this is a good book for you.
What makes this book (and the other TumTum and Nutmeg books) enjoyable for me as a parent is that it is wholesome (no bloody gory scenes, no freaky supernatural stuff, no characters treating others badly when they are supposed to be on the same side). There is equal treatment of male and female roles (although there are only a few female characters, they are strong, capable, and smart - when they are not the villain), so the book is good for both boys AND girls. The narrator does a nice job of making the characters' voices different enough so that you can always tell who's talking, yet not SO overacted or contrived that you just find them ruddy annoying (a la "Owls of Ga'Hoole" as narrated by Pamela Garelick, which makes you want to take your kitchen shears to your ears or flush the MP3 player down the loo).
I like knowing that my kid can listen to an audiobook with me not having to worry that it is going to suddenly turn (what I consider to be) inappropriate as soon as I am not listening. I like knowing that my kid can listen to stories where characters are creative in their problem-solving, bold and courageous, friendly and helpful, and of both genders. I like my kid to spend storytime with characters that I wouldn't mind her spending time with in Real Life (other than the villains, natch).
Oh, I can't really say for sure. Frankly, one thing I like in a book like this is the fact that it is really quite forgettable. If you are a parent, you may know what I mean. It means you can have it on in the car over and over again and it doesn't intrude on your consciousness and make you want to pull over so that you can bury your head in roadside ditch for a while, or actually get so enthralling that it distracts you from your navigational duties and you end up in Vancouver when you were aiming for Dallas. It means you can put it on at Quiet Time and the room stays quiet. It means that your kids don't come away with all sorts of new words and phrases that they want to try out on their little sister.
Well, Nutmeg, not surprisingly, as she is my favorite character in the books. She's kind of smart but shy, kind of feisty and strong, but also gentle and caring. She's always got a good idea to help get everyone out of trouble.
NO, and that's a GOOD thing. It's a fun book. It's got a cute plot. It's a little kids' book, though. If you are looking for the next "Redwall" or "Despereaux" or something, this is not it. It's simple and fun and exciting (for little ones) and wholesome family-friendly fun. There is some violence, but is is of the cartoonish sort, just as there are some "baddies" who behave badly in a very cartoonish way (a la Roald Dahl's "bad" characters like Aunts Sponge and Spiker from "...Giant Peach" or the Trunchbull from "Matilda", although not quite as bad as either).
It's something I wouldn't mind letting a 4-year-old listen to, but I don't think it would interest your average child who has already moved into the "Harry Potter" type books which have a lot more action and intensity (as well as protagonists acting more "human" and maybe not always making the best choices or behaving the best). I would think that for most kids, third grade would be the absolute limit for TumTum and Nutmeg. Mine is age 7 and she loves them.
All the TumTum and Nutmeg books are equally pleasant, but if you want the full experience, get them in order, because there are (small) plotlines and (some) character development that goes on throughout the series. Things are explained in the first book ("Adventures at Nutmouse Hall") that aren't really reiterated in too much detail in later books, and there are references to past adventures in the books as they go in order. Not that you won't really figure it all out, but I am glad we read them in order.
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