The various writers of obituaries and recognitions for Russell Hoban have done a fine job of showing his range — everything from the delightful Bedtime for Frances to the dystopic Ridley Walker to my personal favorite, The Mouse and his Child. This last is an enigma of a book. I’ve read bits aloud, but never the whole thing and in my many years of teaching have rarely recommended it to a child. Still I love it — whether the edition illustrated by Lillian Hoban or the more recent one by David Small. It is about family, of bonds between parent and child, about philosophy, the world, art, and everything else. And it ends on Christmas.
The tramp saw father and son with their family and friends about them. He saw The Last Visible Dog in all the brightness of its lights against the night; he heard the singing and merriment inside; and he smiled and spoke to the mouse and his child for the second time.
“Be happy,” said the tramp.