Fey Mouse is an interactive picture book based on the title of the same name, developed by Blue Quoll as the first in their series of Australian Vintage Picture Books, adapting out-of-print titles and making them accessible to children from around the world.
Fey Mouse is the story of a cat born into a mouse family, misunderstood by distant relatives and living in the shadow of their successful lives.
The illustrations are simply gorgeous to look at with an effective use of presumable zooming and panning of the original illustrations, lush with tactile details such as Fey Mouse’s pink fur as well as a fun, jazzy score played throughout this app.
Although charming and rich with nuance, I can’t help but think this beautiful story is a little sad as Fey Mouse has from birth been labeled as ”strange” and is the black sheep in this famous family of mice. Each relative has an interesting back story that Fey Mouse does not fit into, including how Fey Mouse is sprayed with mouse perfume that her mother invented to cover up her “catty” smell.
I can imagine children asking why the family members were allowed to be mean to Fey Mouse, and it will be up to the parents to create their own explanation, yet I did find it moving as her beloved mouse parents held their child and tearfully said it was time for Fey Mouse to leave the family in order to make a life for herself, which Fey Mouse does, finding a place among other cats, and changing her name to something more appropriate.
Narration is included by this book's author Hazel Edwards, and although she is not a professional voice actor, Edwards brings a lot of nuance to her reading about this cat and her melancholy family situation. I also appreciate how even while reading this app to oneself, the paragraphs can be tapped to hear a nice inclusion for new readers.
Sound effects are included as well as added lines of dialogue - both spoken as well as seen as speak bubbles found with a tap of these characters.
This inclusion has both moments of added richness such as hearing Fey Mouse purr as well as times that this interactivity becomes problematic as the added dialogue or sounds can sometimes overlap the narration as well as being distracting. The rock star mouse who sings “This isn’t love” as part of a song lyric and the sounds of the instruments being played may be enjoyed by some while others may find them loud - especially in the context of this gentle tale.
Even having said this, Fey Mouse is a lovely story written with sophistication and illustrated with great beauty and detail. I am glad this book has been given a new life as an app for iPad, allowing children who otherwise would never have heard of Fey Mouse to do so.
I look forward to new Blue Quoll apps in the future, be it from the series of re-told fairy tales or as new Australian Vintage Picture Books as well.