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Literature / Stuart Little

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Stuart Little is a 1945 children's novel by E. B. White. It concerns the story of a mouse-like boy born to human parents in New York City. The early chapters concern his everyday life in the City and encounter with a friend who saves his life, Margalo the bird.

When Margalo flies away, Stuart leaves the city in a quest to find her. He acquires a gasoline-powered model car and travels the country. He finds employment as a substitute teacher from time to time. The most notable event includes finding a love interest in his own size, Harriet Ames. They go to a single date before he leaves to continue his quest. The novel has no resolution.

Stuart Little was loosely adapted to a namesake film in 1999, which combined live-action and computer animation, with Michael J. Fox voicing the title character. It was a box office hit, and received two sequels. An animated series was created in 2003, but only lasted a single season, 13 episodes.

Tropes in the book include:

  • Animal Athlete Loophole: Guess there Ain't No Rule that says a mouse can't sail in a model boat race.
  • Cats Are Mean: Played straight with Snowbell and his lady friend.
  • Funny Animal: A reasonable place to put Stuart on the Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism.
  • Hope Spot: Stuart buys a miniature canoe, planning for a nice outing with Harriet Ames at the river. Unfortunately, before the date starts, some boys have found the canoe and left it messed up with a string tied to one end, covered in mud; the pillow and backrest are gone, and one of the paddles is bent out of shape. Stuart is so upset about the date being ruined, he sleeps under the ruined canoe.
  • Invisibility Cloak: Stuart's car has an invisibility button.
  • Lilliputians: Stuart's date Harriet Ames.
  • Magic Realism: Mrs. Little gives birth to a mouse instead of a human; everyone just shrugs and accepts it. Future acquaintances of Stuart aren't at all surprised to see a talking mouse either.
  • No Ending: The book ends with zero resolution; Stuart simply affirms his determination to find his friend, roll proverbial credits. Apparently E.B. White was concerned about his health, and decided to end the book at the best place he could find rather than keep going with it and risk leaving it unfinished at an even less satisfying point. However, he recovered and lived another 40 years, yet he never went back to finish the book.
  • The Parody Before Christmas: The Littles rewrite 'Twas the Night Before Christmas to say, "Not a creature was stirring, not even a louse" instead of "mouse", since Stuart is an anthropomorphic mouse and they feel the poem's depiction of mice is "belittling".
  • Silence of Sadness: When the Littles are sad because Stuart is missing, it's stated by the narration that nobody talks during lunch.
  • Too Unhappy to Be Hungry: When Stuart goes missing, the rest of the Littles don't enjoy their stew.
  • What Happened to the Mouse? No further mention is made of Mr. and Mrs. Little or George once Stuart leaves home.