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Bernelly & Harriet: The Country Mouse and the City Mouse

Region: Mediterranean, Greece

Author: Elizabeth Dahlie

Original Language: English rendition of classic Greek fable

Illustrator: Elizabeth Dahlie

Character: Bernelly and Harriet

Genre: Folktales

Descriptors: city, town, mice, Aesop, country

Age: 3-6 years old


Bernelly & Harriet: The Country Mouse and the City Mouse is a modern retelling of Aesop’s Fable “The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse.” Aesop was believed to have lived around 500 BCE in Greece and wrote politically and morally motivated stories for adults. In the original version, the town mouse visits the country mouse and is uninspired by the bland and simple food and way of life, so he brings the country mouse to the city to dine with fine foods and in luxurious style. But they are chased by vicious dogs and cat and have to flee mid-meal. The town mouse returns to the country as he values simplicity and safety over luxury and danger. In Elizabeth Dahlie’s retelling of this fable, there is no inclination that either a city life or a country life is preferable: each has its own charms and people can choose either lifestyle. Bernelly is the country mouse who teaches fly fishing and decides to visit her cousin when her boots tear and there is no shoe shop in the country. Harriet, a famous artist, loves the city. While visiting Harriet, Bernelly enjoys the fine foods and excitement for a few days but starts to miss being able to sit quietly by the river to enjoy the slower pace of life. So Bernelly brings Harriet back to the country to the peace, quiet and wide-open spaces. But Harriet feels out of place and homesick at a dinner party where everyone is swapping fishing adventures. Harriet goes back to the city, but the beauty of the countryside influences her art work. Elizabeth Dahlie’s illustrations are in watercolor and tell the story of Harriet and Bernelly with gentle and sophisticated beauty in pastel colors.  

More About This Book

Reviewed: Print book by Little Brown (2002). ISBN: 9780316608114. 32p. 


Reviewed by Laney Jones

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