Brave mouse makes daring bid for freedom in Carlie Sorosiak’s third, gorgeous animal tale.
Clementine is a lab mouse, bred for scientific research. She is also a genius who thinks about prime numbers, dreams in Latin, solves quadratic equations, understands human languages and is fascinated by astrophysics. Day after day she is put through rigorous tests and challenges but never fails to impress the scientists with her aptitude for problem solving.
After being freed from the lab by a kindhearted lab-technician, Clementine’s eyes are opened to the glorious outside world. A world full of brussel sprouts, speed chess and television fame. She also learns the terrifying truth about what the scientists actually want to do with her, especially her brain. But every mouse deserves to have a life. And Clementine is determined to show the world that all animals are worthy of a life outside of the lab. To do so she must play the game of her life. Will she be able to ward off the researchers who are hot on her tail or will it be checkmate…
Told through a series of captivating, emotionally-charged and incredibly insightful thought-letters that Clementine mentally composes to Rosie - a chimpanzee and her best friend from the lab - Always, Clementine is a beautifully written story from an author that is at the top of her game and is quickly becoming my go to for animal stories that are big on heart and that deal with real world issues.
Bravery, heart and hope sing through the pages of a heart-warming and emotionally intelligent ‘tail’ that packs a real punch and importantly emphasises the case against animal testing and animals purely bred for research purposes. As our brave mouse sets about proving to the world that animals are more than just props for scientific studies she finds friendship, goodness, empathy, understanding and delivers a wonderful lesson that even the very smallest can have courage and wisdom far beyond their tiny stature.
Sorosiak loves animals, and in Clementine we are treated to a character who bares her heart and soul to the world. Clementine’s voice and inner feelings are beautifully captured and it is impossible not to be moved by her wise thoughts, knowledgeable view of the world and her clever observations of humans; the tiny mouse will steal your heart as she advocates for a better world with the help of some good humans who know what it means to care for animals, to respect their rights and to be a friend. Then there’s Hamlet, a largely non-verbal mouse who escapes the lab too - I won’t say much more about him other than he is awesome, has a talent that I could only dream of and opens the door for discussion around different intelligences.
This is a story that needs to be told and in Sorosiak’s hand it is expertly done so. Hard hitting issues and a reminder to children to care for all animals and to fight for those ones that are trapped, experimented on and taken advantage of. If we can all squeak as loudly and with the same wisdom as Clementine then the future for all animals can be brighter.
Always, Clementine will live long in the memory and Sorosiak has surely written a classic with an animal character that is up there with the very best of them!
With huge thanks to Allen & Unwin and Nosy Crow for the copy I received in exchange for an honest review.
Recommended for 9+.