I have a small confession: I am a comfort reader. Whenever I am in an emotional mess, I turn to familiar books and read myself through the crisis. My favorite comfort-reading books are Echoes by Maeve Binchy, the Harry Potter books, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells, and the Glenbrooke series.
My very ultimate comfort read, though? A short children’s chapter book called The Attic Mice.
Aren’t the illustrations charming? They were done by David Catrow, who has illustrated many books. These sketches are very unlike his newer illustrations, but were perfect for the antiquated charm of Ethel Pochowski’s short book.
From the precious Robert Southey poem used as an epithet to the mice performing a Christmas pageant in their spacious attic home, The Attic Mice is enchanting, delicious, and the perfect read-aloud.
But this book is a thousand times more special to me than just its contents. My uncle’s ex-wife, a children’s librarian and elementary-school teacher, gifted me the tome when I was in its correct age range. She always gave books, and they were always ones I’d never heard of but loved passionately.
I was in college when she and my uncle divorced; it broke me a little, because I hadn’t known it was coming at all. Any divorces on either side of my family had taken place before I was could remember them. All of my grandparents were living. This was the first time I was losing a family member, and I couldn’t do a thing about it.
Perhaps it was just the point in time, my junior year of college, where I was cramming in as many English major courses as possible while my best friend and confidant was studying abroad in England.
Either way, I grieved their relationship and my loss. And my sweet boyfriend, also known as Mr. V, just didn’t know what to do. Finally, I figured out a way he could help.
He read me The Attic Mice, out loud.
It was perfect and healing. It helped.