Mr. Maxwell's Mouse by Frank Asch
Illustrated by Devin Asch
Mr. Maxwell, the cat, has just been promoted. The elegant and well educated cat decides to celebrate by dining at his usual restaurant, the Paw and Claw. Since this is a special occasion, Mr. Maxwell decides to be daring and instead of ordering bake mouse as it is his custom, he orders raw mouse. His mouse arrives alive, laying atop a rye piece of bread. From the instant he's presented as an entree, the mouse engages Mr. Maxwell in conversation. The mouse is quite verbose and manages to delay his impending death and distract Mr. Maxwell long enough to trick him and replace himself with Mr. Maxwell's own tail. As the cat cuts into his tail, chaos ensues and the mouse is able to free his fellow mice and run away from the restaurant. Soon after the incident, while recuperating at the hospital, Mr. Maxwell receives a letter from the mouse: "I sincerely regret any distress I may have caused you. I'm sure you would have taken similar measures had you found yourself in my position."
Mr. Maxwell's Mouse is deliciously creepy. It's not for the squeamish. I enjoyed the language, its pompous tone, and its dark and stylish illustrations. It's macabre and entertaining. What a great find.