Ragweed is determined to see the world. He leaves his family and cozy country home and sets off by train for the big city. What wonders await him: music, excitement, new friends...and cunning, canivorous cats! Silversides is the purring president of F.E.A.R. (Felines Enraged About Rodents), a group dedicated to keeping cats on top, people in the middle, and mice on the bottom. Can Ragweed and his motley yet musical crew of city mice---Clutch, Dipstick, Lugnut and Blinker---band together to fight their feline foe?
I've read and reread Ragweed and the Dimwood forest series for eight summers, and each time, the story never gets old. Ragweed is full of adventure and follows several different character's story lines, including Ragweed's, his arch cat enemy Silversides, his tomboyish mouse friend Clutch, and another white pet mouse named Blinker that lives in Silversides' apartment. Each chapter is filled with adventure, solid descriptions despite the young reader's age suggested, and makes you believe mice and cats can really relate like humans. There is very little human interaction, so it gets you thinking about the personalities of the mice rather than humans. It also follows Ragweed and Blinker's journeys for bravery, leadership, and the ability to stand up for what you believe.
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- Reading Age: 8+
- Reading Aloud Age: 7+
One illustration shows the shadow of Silversides putting her paw over the whiskers of a mouse (showing she's getting rid of it). Other chapters speak of her intent to completely exterminate mice (and some particular ones), along with her partner Graybar. Several times mice suggest she has killed other mice, such as when Clutch says she 'gaffled Muffler'. One chapter the cats burst into a mouse gathering place, swiping at mice.
Other illustrations include Silversides and Graybar bursting into the mice gathering place with teeth showing, Silversides opening her mouth at Ragweed, Silversides pinning a frightened Blinker to the ground, and Silversides and Graybar sitting talking surrounded by small chicken bones.
Graybar eats 'chicken bones and innards' briefly in one chapter. Graybar and Silversides walk through a sewer to access the mice's hiding place. Clutch the mouse uses modern slang such as 'rave', 'dude', 'sweet', 'bummer', and 'yo', but no swear words. Clutch says, 'makes me want to uncork my guts' once. Ragweed gradually begins to use Clutch's slang as the book progresses.
There are a few other scenes of turmoil, including Silversides' owner holding her by the scruff of the neck and talking to her angrily, Ragweed being chased by Silversides several times, Silversides confronting Blinker threateningly, and Blinker collapsing in Clutch's arms in a faint.