by Tim Beiser; Rachel Berman, illus.

“Spring is such a funny thing,” muses author Tim Beiser in the opening lines of this delightfully brisk ode to seasonal romance among the woodland set. Miss Mousie has stopped in at the local deli, where she finds her knees turning to jelly at the sight of Matt LaBatt, the water rat, whose matinee-idol looks – black fur, red eyes, lemon-yellow teeth – leave her momentarily speechless. After Matt makes a disparaging comment about Miss Mousie’s weight, she beats a hasty retreat to her burrow, where she can hide her “chubby, tubby body” from the judgmental eyes of the outside world.

Beiser_Miss Mousie’s Blind DateWhen a dinner invitation from a mystery date suddenly appears in her letterbox, Miss Mousie’s first instinct is to decline. But curiosity quickly overcomes her, and she opts to venture out in disguise instead. Miss Mousie’s date turns out to be blind in more ways than one. Her suitor is none other than the deli owner, a mole who, literally blind without his specs, attempts to seat her “In funny spots, like flowerpots / and on a carpet beater.” As he stumbles about his burrow, Miss Mousie can’t help noticing the mole’s surprisingly rat-like black hair and whiskers, which appear to have been hastily glued on.

Beiser’s playful rhymes ferry us merrily along to the tale’s satisfying resolution. Realizing they’re both pretending to be something they’re not, Miss Mousie calls a truce, which the mole accepts on bended knee, proposing, “If you’ll be you, then I’ll be me.”

Beiser and illustrator Rachel Berman previously collaborated on the equally enchanting Governor General’s Literary Award finalist Bradley McGogg, the Very Fine Frog. Once again, Berman’s formally attired creatures, their delicate hands and oversized heads rendered in muted tones, show Beatrix Potter’s influence in the best possible way. This is an utterly charming book and a gentle introduction to the lifelong perils of spring fever.

Reviewed by Emily Donaldson