Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Stuart Little is an episodic adventure tale reminiscent of novels in the picaresque style. It is also a fantasy relayed through omniscient third-person narration. The story unfolds in chapters describing significant incidents or adventures. The cleverly detailed illustrations by Garth Williams, although dated, complement the text and allow for complete acceptance of the fantasy. The story is timeless, with universal appeal.

Stuart Little is a mouse living in a human family. The Littles make allowances for his size and physique with creative engineering and adaptations, and they are sensitive to his differences in appearance and stature. Although they love Stuart, the family members sometimes exploit his small size. He is sent down a slimy drain to retrieve his mother’s lost ring, and he later retrieves lost Ping-Pong balls from beneath hot radiators. He must share his home with Snowbell the cat, a mouse’s natural predator. Stuart learns early that survival is a difficult struggle.

Outside of home, Stuart is forced to contend with the bustling activity on the streets of New York City, a difficult task for a mouse who stands only two inches tall. Stuart is too small to board a bus without assistance. He lives in mortal fear of wayward dogs. Too small to carry standard change, he offers his own specially made tender when paying his fare. He dresses according to the popular fashion of his day, and his conduct is typical of a gentleman...

(The entire section is 515 words.)