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Musnet series
1. The Mouse of Monet
2. Impressions of the Master
3. The Flames of Limelight
4. The Tears of the Painter

Author: Kickliy
Published August 2nd, 2016; November 1st, 2016; April 11th, 2017; October 10th, 2017 by odod books

Summary: A young boy mouse travels the country side looking for work and happens upon the Monet’s garden. He takes on a job and becomes inspired to learn to paint. Will he paint in the classical ways, or in the new style of the impressionist? Which way will his brush sway?

Musnet wants to be the best mouse painter that ever was. But, he’s caught between two worlds. On one paw, Musnet loves the classical style of his old teacher, the squirrel Remi. On the other paw, Musnet can’t help to be drawn to the fresh and new art of the human master, Monet. Which path will the Mus choose?

It’s dark season in Musnet’s world. His adoptive family faces eviction, his Master Remi is deathly ill, he’s chased by snakes, cats, and vampire bats, and—on top of all that—Musnet faces the most challenging painting commission of his life! Can he rise to challenges and brush them all away?

As snow and ice chill Monet’s garden, even colder things await Musnet this winter season. Mya, Musnet’s best friend, gets her own adventure. Chiby, the Japanese spider, gets in a tangle with a certain muscular rat. Is there even any room left for our vagabond mouse? Drama, action, adventure, abound in the final volume of the award nominated series.

Musnet is drawn and painted in a beautiful, lush and inky style popularized by Paul Pope and French comics masters such Blutch and Christophe Blain.

“It’s a really enjoyable story that brings Monet’s paintings to life through some incredibly sweet and memorable characters. It’s challenging and imaginative, and I’m sure it will spark an obsession with painting (and maybe also mice).”—Girls Like Comics

“This new series revolves around a painting mouse found in Monet’s famous gardens in Giverny: the nameless, orphan mouse is befriended by Mya and her mouse family, who live inside the artist’s house. Introduced to painting after he begins working for Remy, an old squirrel painter, he is enchanted by Monet’s work. Beautifully painted […] charming tale of humour, art, and adventure, as the little mouse grows to find his meaning and place in the world.”—The Guardian

Musnet: The Mouse of Monet is a gorgeous and friendly story about a mouse discovering his calling in life and also what he wants to be called. Take a friendly and likable orphaned mouse, place him in a beautifully rendered watercolor and ink medium with miniature Monet masterpieces and you get a stunning and engaging story of a mouse learning to become an artist. He makes friends, finds a mentor, and even gets to sneak a peek inside Monet’s studio. It’s incredibly well executed, entertaining, informative, and absolutely absorbing. It is one of the best books I’ve read this year.” —The Picture Book Review

Review: After I read book one of this series, I could not wait to share it with everyone I talked to: “I love when books include art history in them because it makes me feel at home since I grew up in art museums as a museum director’s daughter. Musnet is no different. As soon as I realized that Musnet had ended up in Monet’s famous garden, I was fascinated with Musnet’s story and his journey to becoming an artist. Kickliy’s artwork pays perfect homage to Monet’s work and is a beautiful backdrop to Musnet’s story.” And I was really excited to read the rest of the books in the series.

Luckily they did not disappoint! Book one was just an introduction to the characters who continued to mature throughout the arc of the story. Musnet’s situation fluctuates causing the reader to quickly move from relief to panic which ensures the reader wants to keep going through the series. Although the series begins with Musnet just looking for a home, it ends with Musnet looking for what life has in store for him as an artist.

But what makes this series even more unique is the level of graphics. Kickliy’s ink, watercolor, and oil illustrations are reminiscent of the period in which Monet lived–it is like reading art. Kickliy even paints little oil paintings for the book for whenever a Musnet or Monet work is shown.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: “Musnet lives in Monet’s garden. Was there a roach under Van Gogh’s bed? Or a fish behind Munch’s Scream? If so, what would their story be like?” Have students create stories of animals that ‘live’ in the background of famous paintings. They’d need to research the art styles for illustrations and the time period/place of the painting for their setting, so this activity would be a perfect cross-curricular for writing, reading, art, and history.

Parts of the book would also be really great assets for engagement and information in art classrooms. Remi, Monet, and Musnet are talented artists who share insight throughout the series.

Discussion Questions: 

  • After book one, did you think Musnet was going to become a successful artist?
  • How does Kickliy’s illustrations fit the period of the book’s setting?
  • Which conflict in Musnet’s story affected Musnet’s conclusion the most?
  • Why do you think Kickliy chose Monet as the artist inspiration for his book?
  • What artist would you want to meet?
  • How did meeting Mya change Musnet’s life? Remi? Chiby?

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Read This If You Love: Art, Graphic Novels, Monet, Mira’s Diary by Marissa Moss, The Museum by Susan Verde, Babymouse series by Jennifer and Matthew Holm, The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo, Redwall by Brian Jacques, The Museum by Susan Verde

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