Mouse Guard is the bestselling series of graphic novels in a classic square children’s storybook format by author-illustrator David Petersen. Petersen has stacked up awards for his series like no other comics creator, including for Mouse Guard: Black Axe, the Harvey Award in 2014, for Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard Volume 1, the Eisner Award in 2011, for Mouse Guard: Fall: 1152, two Eisner Awards in 2008, for Mouse Guard: Winter: 1152, the Eisner Award in 2008, and for Mouse Guard: The Role Playing Game, the Origins Award in 2009, among others. A movie with Fox was in pre-production before the Disney-Fox merger cancelled it. Now fans of the internationally popular series can get their hands on a new book of stories in its original single issue format. Mouse Guard: The Owlhen Caregiver & Other Tales is Petersen at his best, and the three new stories are timeless–the stuff of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales and Aesop’s fables.
With some of the more recent Mouse Guard projects created by a series of contributors, this new book is a refreshing return to what made the series so popular–Petersen’s worldbuilding coupled with his classic-inspired artistic style, which is unique today. The original seven characters in his stories were mice Kenzie, Sadie, Saxon, Conrad, Lieam, Celanawe, and the Matriarch Gwendolyn. Petersen returns to Celanawe, now lonely and contemplative in the year 1090, in his “The Tale of Piper the Listener.” Celanawe recounts a tale that inspired him of a mouse who learned to understand what it is like to be in the shoes of others, in this case other animals, in true Aesop’s Fables style.
“The Tale of Owlhen the Caregiver” is a story told to Delvin by his mother about a mouse who tended to the needs of an owl, and when the mouse became ill the owl dropped everything to become the caregiver for the mouse. It’s the kind of touching, emotional, moving story that should be read by all children and all adults, and is sure to be an award-winner come next year’s Eisner’s.
The final story, “The Tale of the Wild Wolf,” is a cautionary tale told by Bastian about his younger self to a group of over-anxious young mice.
The commonality of the stories is discussed in an afterword by Petersen. These morality tales feature protector/caregivers and stress their importance in a way that will make readers want to emulate them.
As with prior Mouse Guard projects, the design features of the book, introductions, backgrounds, and other features are as detailed and fascinating as the main story being told. Here are more images and original art from Mouse Guard: The Owlhen Caregiver & Other Tales:
I highly recommend each entry in the Mouse Guard series. In case you missed any, check out more about them below:
Mouse Guard coloring book
Also, don’t miss Petersen’s The Wind and the Willows, which made our borg Best of the Decade list earlier this year. Follow David Petersen and check out his online shop at his website here and his new Patreon–where you can get downloads of inked artwork to color, here. If you want to learn even more about Petersen, check out my decade of coverage of his work here at borg.
C.J. Bunce / Editor / borg