With the Courage of a Mouse

The Superhero School Book 1

Children - Preteen
Kindle Edition
Reviewed on 09/09/2019
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

As the youngest child in a large family, Donna felt lost in the crowd. She entertained herself by making up stories and friends to play with. By age 5, Donna had taught herself to read, and that began her imaginative journey to dreamy castles with princes and fairy godmothers.
Donna is a grandmother, random fact-finder, and encourager. And, yes, she believes she’s a superhero.
She lives in California with her family and four cats. (Sadly, no mice like Simon.) Follow The Superhero School series at DonnaSagerCowan.com

    Book Review

Reviewed by Samantha Coville for Readers' Favorite

Simon Cheddar is a tiny mouse with big ambitions. He dreams of becoming a superhero. So, naturally, he must go to a superhero school. Luckily, he has an enormous amount of courage needed to do such a thing. There is also Catt. She is a sad, homeless cat who has been left alone in the world. The residents of Mouseville do not trust Catt simply because she is a feline. But our brave mouse Simon Cheddar will teach everyone the importance of inclusion, friendship, courage, and doing what is right.

With the Courage of a Mouse by Donna Sager Cowan is a preteen chapter book. It does a great job of blending deep topics and valuable messages with short chapters so that youngsters won't grow tired of reading. There are enough action and adventure moments to keep young readers interested. And, at the same time, there is enough wit and humor to keep parents entertained if they choose to read with their child. Accompanying the text is a collection of adorable illustrations. I particularly love the one of a giraffe in a purple police uniform standing next to a cat 'Wanted' poster. I believe there is a wide age range that will enjoy both listening to and reading for themselves this first book in the Superhero School Series. A book that starts with a little mouse challenging a hawk to eat him for lunch is bound to be an entertaining read worth revisiting at different reading levels. I look forward to seeing what author Cowan comes up with next in this enchanting series.

K.C. Finn

With the Courage of a Mouse is a delightful work of adventurous fiction for preteen children, and was written by Donna Sager Cowan with illustrations by Diane J. Reid. Written as the opening book in a series entitled The Superhero School, this work pairs together an unlikely duo for a tale of loyalty, friendship and overcoming stigma. Catt is a cat whose life has not gone well so far, having been abandoned by her human family and attacked by other animals. Brave little mouse Simon Cheddar befriends Catt at once, and they attend a superhero school together where they meet a whole host of other interesting animals.

The central message of this charming story suggests to its young audience not to judge others by their appearance, or indeed their ‘race’ (as Catt is automatically judged to be the reason Mouseville is attacked, just because she’s a cat). There is also a strong theme of bravery in adversity, standing up for oneself and helping others, which the truly heroic little Simon Cheddar portrays very well. Diane J. Reid’s illustrations help the story along with brightly colored moments of action, but the book is primarily a text for middle-grade readers who can travel through the story and meet each new challenge with confidence. Overall, With the Courage of a Mouse opens an engaging new series of chapter books that have plenty of charm and heart, and Donna Sager Cowan writes with lively dialogue and highly engaging prose that children are sure to adore.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

When Simon Cheddar, a mouse, is caught in the claws of a hawk, he only experiences a few minutes of terror before he gets into action. Not wanting to be the hawk’s next meal, Simon pulls some nail clippers from his pocket and clips the hawk’s nails. The hawk is now the one who’s terrified and he drops Simon. As the mouse freefalls back to earth, he notices a cat waiting on the ground. Was he going to be the cat’s next meal instead of the hawk’s? Instead, it turns out that the cat, called Catt with two t’s, is rather timid. As unlikely as it seems, the two become friends and Catt follows Simon’s lead to become less fearful and learn how to be a superhero. And where else would a mouse and his friend the cat go but to the Superhero School? That’s where they meet Patty the pig and Freddy the frog. The four team up to make an awesome group of superheroes, saving Catt from being wrongly accused and protecting others from exploitation and possible death.

Donna Sager Cowan’s middle-grade novel, With the Courage of a Mouse (The Superhero School Book 1), makes a great addition to an early chapter book library. Young readers will enjoy the adventures of Simon Cheddar and his animal friends as they take care of their community’s safety and, above all, respect each other’s differences. For example, the idea of a mouse and a cat being friends might seem a bit far-fetched, but it makes a good example for young readers to understand the importance of looking beyond differences. I think this is the most important message in this story. The plot is exciting and the characters, all animals, are well developed, creating a community that respects one another despite their differences. An excellent story.