Umbrella Mouse to the Rescue is the simply stunning sequel to The Umbrella Mouse. This is an action-packed WWII animal adventure imbued with tremendous courage, friendship and hope in the face of terrible peril, betrayal and mistrust. It was an emotional roller coaster of a story, both heart-warming and poignant, as I followed Pip and her friends on their dangerous mission.
Four weeks after the events of The Umbrella Mouse, French Resistance group Noah’s Ark have been left with physical and emotional scars including grief at the loss of some of their friends. Courageously, Pip decides to continue to fight with Noah’s Ark, led by the indomitable Madame Fourcade, who agree to undertake a new assignment which requires them to meet a white mouse in the catacombs beneath the streets of Paris to help the human Allies in the liberation of the city.
This does not, of course, mean that Pip is leaving behind the Umbrella she has carried with her from her home in London and which is both a constant reminder of her childhood with her family, and a painful reminder of her terrible loss: Pip still intends to fulfil her mission of taking it to a new life in the Umbrella Museum in Italy. This has just been put on hold whilst she continues to fight with Noah’s Ark.
When a friend they thought they had lost returns, he brings them a dire warning: they are being hunted by the Milice, who fight for the Axis powers, and who want revenge on Pip who has become a symbol to unite the French Resistance fighters. They must escape the terrifying Butcher Birds and make their way through occupied territory to join in the liberation of Paris …
So begins an enthralling action-packed adventure, filled with the constant threat of danger, with astonishing revelations, with bravery overcoming fear, which sees Noah’s Ark fighting for their survival against terrifying new and old enemies. Will they be able to fulfil their mission of helping the human Allies liberate Paris, or will they be thwarted by a determined and cruel foe? Will new friendships lead to trust or betrayal?
I absolutely adored Pip who despite her diminutive size and understandable fear and grief, radiates a great deal of courage and tenacity. She has found a new family in Noah’s Ark, a family who she clearly loves. Pip is willing to take great risks to protect and defend them, even when that threatens her own safety. She is clever, noble and loyal and determined to do all she can to fight for a freedom she completely believes in: a perfect symbol of hope to unite the Resistance in their final efforts to liberate their country. Pip is an incredibly endearing and sympathetic character which made my heart ache for her when she experiences feelings of guilt and grief. I just wanted to reach out to her and hug her, so I’m glad that she good friends, old and new, to support her and care for her.
The reality of war is portrayed through the eyes of the animals, through their interactions and experiences, in a way that makes this period of history accessible to younger readers. Whilst there is heart-break, grief, cruelty and destruction, there is also bravery, hope, friendship and heroism.
Sam Usher’s gorgeous illustrations are scattered throughout the story: they portray the characters perfectly, and really capture their personalities, just as I imagine them from the story.
This is a powerful and vividly told story which has at its centre the strength of friendships and the constancy of courage despite the cruelty of war with THE most heart-warming ending which is a perfect tribute to a brave little mouse!
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an e-ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.