At the urging of his wife Deni Jo, Cliff Vinsonhaler is writing down some of the stories he's told over the years to his kids and grandkids. One might say that the Chico real estate broker has created some unreal estate in his fanciful tales of kids and animals, and if the first book in the planned series is any indication, readers will find continuing delight.
"Rodey" ($11.99 in paperback from Vinsonhaler Publishing, myrodey.com), available at Lyon Books in Chico, comes packed with full-color illustrations from the irrepressible Steve Ferchaud of Paradise. Vinsonhaler's stories, says his website, "most of which are still in his head, have no moral or hidden meaning. What they do depict is old fashioned fun and entertainment."
Rodey is a field mouse who "wanted to live in the grand two-story house where a little boy named Benjamin lived." Wouldn't you know it, though--there was no place for a mouse to get in. (We should all be so lucky.) So Rodey hatches a plan. He spots Ben's shoes lying in the grass and figures if he hides in one of the shoes he'll be carried inside when Ben's mom comes to retrieve them ("like she had always done before").
But the best-laid plans of mice and men.... Ben himself came out and put on his shoes. "Benjamin said, 'Mom, I think I need new shoes because one of them shrunk.' Well he didn't know it, but his mother was going to buy new shoes for him that very day."
The heart of the book is the meeting with Mrs. Lace, a rather matronly woman who had just started working at the shoe store. Ben tosses his shoes on the floor, and Rodey "fell out of the shoe, conked his head and passed out right onto Mrs. Lace's foot. She looked down at the mouse and screamed, and in the excitement flung her foot so high in the air ... that Rodey flew right over and onto the top of the store manager's head, Mr. Horn. Well, guess what? No one ever knew it, but Mr. Horn wore a toupee." Can you see where this is going?
The text and pictures will have kids laughing out loud. At least this kid did.