In Further Adventures of Snuze, the second volume in an illustrated chapter book series by E. Rutherford of Dorset, England, a determined mouse called Snuze continues his adventures in the garden of a man called Richard. Here, numerous mice dwell along with a slug, cat, dog, nesting ducks and bird visitors both friendly and threatening.
In fact, threats past and present form a constant undercurrent in the tale, since Snuze himself is introduced as one who survived when most members of his family were poisoned. Throughout Snuze’s adventures in this volume, danger looms in the forms of Richard’s lawnmower, hungry seagulls, and more. Yet living with caution seems to be natural to Snuze, his special friend Connie, and other garden denizens.
The garden’s leader, an imposing Chief Mouse known as “Rockface,” recognizes Snuze’s talents for communication and gives him the job of forming alliances with other creatures. Snuze’s mission offers the author the opportunity to create some memorable scenes – the mouse’s learning to sing like a dog, for example – and to deliver the message that in a dangerous world, communication is a plus.
Unfortunately, Rutherford’s book lacks polish. Missing punctuation, including commas for clarity and periods at the end of sentences, is a problem throughout. The author also needs guidance on how to clearly indicate the subjects of sentences and how use subordinate clauses. Case in point: “Quietly resting and keeping a lookout, suddenly there was a very big noise and it was very very close.” (Much better would be, “As the two mice quietly rested and kept a lookout, they suddenly heard a very big noise and it was very, very close.”) She also runs dialogue together in single paragraphs.
These frequent flaws distract and detract from the otherwise imaginative story that offers some charm and a valuable message for young chapter book readers.
Also available as an ebook.