The Tale of Two Bad Mice – Beatrix Potter

More in the Series – Potter
“More in the Series” scores the other books in a series where one (or more) of the books have made it into the 1001 Books list. Mostly because I’m a bit of a completionist. 

POINTS: 2 out of 10.

Bechdel: 0 point
Variety of characters: 0 points
Good story:  2 points.
Discretionary ideological points: 0 points.

This is an interesting little tale because it kind of does a double-take, and backtracks on itself.

But before we get to that, there is no Bechdel pass, despite quite a number of named female characters (the fact that two of them are dolls, and therefore can’t speak probably contributes to this). There is also no diversity – like pretty much all the BP books, this one is firmly rooted in white British culture, and there is not a whiff of any other sort.

Ideologically it’s on somewhat iffy ground. the mice are, in fact, pretty bad – stealing things and making a mess of and breaking the things they can’t steal. The title is clear about that. But at the end of the book, the narrator does a bit of a turnaround claiming they’re not as bad as all that because they go and help out after the fact – cleaning the dolls-house and putting money in the dolls’ stockings.

I’m not convinced though – this all feels a bit “too little, too late” to me. So I asked C to get a five year old moral perspective. He said he thought they were quite naughty even though they tried to make up for it because stealing is always wrong, and because they broke things and that was bad. So there you have it.

Having said that, the book is an interesting one for starting that kind of conversation. I am a fan of kids’ books that deal in moral greys, just because I think absolutes are always dangerous, and the real world is almost never morally absolute. So it was kind of cool to have a forum for having that conversation with C: people (or in this case mice) who do bad things also sometimes do good things and it’s not always possible to work out if someone is a “bad guy” or a “good guy”. Mostly, people are a bit of both.



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