Story and narrative are at the heart of the Mouse Guard graphic novels by David Peterson, and this prequel to the first two books is as powerful in that regard as the others. Mouse Guard: The Black Axe feels as if Peterson has created his own world and history, with fonts and maps and text bubbles and art design all contributing to the overall experience of the reader immersed in a world that seems real and alive.
It’s been some time since I read the first two Mouse Guard books, to be honest, but I was quickly drawn right into this story of a mouse sent on a mission to find the lost weapon of lore. The Black Axe, a weapon of lore, is bestowed to a hero of the mouse world, and less you think that the world of mice in Peterson’s imagination are small and fragile … think again. These mice are fierce and courageous and live in a dangerous world.
The artwork is spectacular here, right in tune with the writing. I had meant to only read the first section and found myself glued to the chair, reading the entire book in one long, enjoyable sitting. Here, in The Black Axe, the mouse hero Celanawe is sent on a quest by his only kin, an elderly mouse, and battles storms, ferrets, fisher cats and a fox. You will root for Celanawe, even as you mourn with him for the cost he pays, and you will sit in wonder of the fabric of this fictional world.
This graphic novel is suitable for middle school and high school students, but it may be a bit violent for some elementary school students. My youngest son is turned off by the different fonts and text bubbles, and the rich language, of Mouse Guard, for some reason. Those are among the things I like most about the series. Go figure.
Peace (for even the smallest of us all),