“While I can, I sail east in the Dawn Treader. When she fails me, I paddle east in my coracle. When she sinks, I shall swim east with my four paws. And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan’s country, or shot over the edge of the world in some vast cataract, I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise and Peepiceek will be head of the talking mice in Narnia.” — Reepicheep, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Ok, so here’s the thing about giving swords to mice. It’s the freaking best. While the symbolism of the swordsmouse probably goes without saying, let me at least say that one of the reasons swordsmice are awesome is that they remind us never to be daunted by long odds and to always persist in the face of adversity (two lessons that are becoming increasingly important).
In the case of Reepicheep, a well-known character from C.S. Lewis’s Narnia and my very favorite swordsmouse, the lessons about being fierce despite small size are still there, but they’re slightly overshadowed by the main thrust (no pun intended) of the character, which is that you should be a total and complete badass in every and all situations, no exceptions. Full stop.
Reepicheep’s whole thing is that he might be the tiniest bit insecure about being, you know, a mouse, so he way, super overcompensates by being really into fighting everyone who even slightly annoys him in any capacity. Now. On the surface, does this seem like really not an admirable quality? Yes. But! Reepicheep completely makes up for this egregious old-timey bellicosity by being extremely noble, chivalrous, and basically just a big, damn hero.
Another great swordsmouse is Matthias, the main character of Brian Jacques’s Redwall. Matthias is a classic unlikely hero and really, who doesn’t love that? Matthias is opposite of Reepicheep in most ways. He’s a peace-loving mouse who pretty much just loves working at Redwall Abbey and is portrayed as a bit of a bungler at first. But he rises in defense of his home and his loved ones when the Abbey is threatened. Without spoiling the book for you, I’ll tell you that Matthias’s transformation from hapless pastoral duffer to mighty swordsmouse is exactly what you need to read if you feel helpless.
Narnia and Redwall are very, very different from one another, but aside from swordsmice and being written by Brits, what they have in common is the deep-rooted theme that good will defeat evil as long as heroes have the will to persevere.
Basically what I’m trying to say, you guys, is this: Swordsmice are one of the greatest things ever given to us by literature. They remind us that valor, bravery, and physical prowess are not the domain only of the large and strong. They teach us not to be afraid to pick a fight, if we feel threatened. They show us that you can be peaceful and still protect those you love. These are important things for every child to learn, which is why swordsmice are mostly found in books for children and young adults, but I have found myself needing reminders lately. If you do, too, these books, and others like them, are the places to find them.