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Tumtum and Nutmeg — “Tumtum and Nutmeg” Series


Readability Age Range



Year Published

Book Review

Tumtum and Nutmeg by Emily Bearn has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the first book in the “Tumtum and Nutmeg” series.

Plot Summary

Mr. and Mrs. Nutmouse live in a broom closet in Rose Cottage. Mr. Nutmouse affectionately calls his wife Nutmeg, and she calls him Tumtum. Although their mouse home is sprawling and well-kept, Rose Cottage and the humans who own it are not so neat.

The cottage belongs to a relatively unsuccessful inventor named Mr. Mildew and his two children, Lucy and Arthur. Nutmeg recalls how things were tidier before Mrs. Mildew died of an illness. Now Mr. Mildew neglects his children’s needs while working on projects. Tumtum and Nutmeg decide to “adopt” the children.

The mice repair the heater, mend holey clothing and fix other things around the house. They leave some of their supplies in Lucy’s dollhouse so they can access them easily. When the kids discover these items and all of the repairs, they write a note inviting their mysterious benefactor to join them for tea.

The mice know they can’t reveal themselves to humans, so Nutmeg leaves a return note. She says she is a fairy of sorts, whose powers would fade if humans looked at her. She invites the children to leave her a note if there is ever anything they need. The children begin leaving bits of food for the mice to eat when they visit the dollhouse at night.

Mr. Mildew’s menacing sister-in-law, Aunt Ivy, comes for the Christmas holidays. She makes life difficult for the family and grows particularly irritable when she catches sight of Tumtum and Nutmeg. She vows to stay at Rose Cottage as long as it takes to get rid of the vermin.

Aunt Ivy puts rat poison in the dollhouse food, causing Tumtum to become very ill. The kids leave a note begging Nutmeg to come back and make Aunt Ivy vanish. Nutmeg writes back that she will not abandon them and will do her best to make Aunt Ivy disappear.

When Nutmeg overhears Aunt Ivy planning to shoot hairspray into their vent to poison them, Nutmeg pays a visit to the esteemed General Marchmouse. The General and his guests, also military mice, come to Rose Cottage to strategize. They mainly end up eating, at a loss for ideas on how to combat Aunt Ivy. Nutmeg finally mentions that Aunt Ivy is terrified of mice. She suggests they overwhelm the woman by bringing in every mouse they can find.

The General and his men map out a strategy and arrange for an army of local mice to arrive the next day. Mrs. Marchmouse and Nutmeg use fabric from an old reflective biking jacket to make armbands so the soldiers can maneuver in the dark. The General falls asleep, which delays the start of the battle, but soon an army of mice makes three separate attacks on Aunt Ivy.

Nutmeg sits at Tumtum’s side, praying the battle is going well. The terrified Aunt Ivy calls for Mr. Mildew, but the mice retreat, and he sees nothing. Aunt Ivy, unsure whether she’s been attacked by mice or is losing her mind, packs her bags and calls for a cab home. She doesn’t even wait until morning but leaves in the middle of the night.

The mice have a celebratory feast. Tumtum and Nutmeg ask one more favor before they leave. They say an army this size could repair and revive Rose Cottage quickly. The gifted mouse army tinkers and fixes the house. By dawn, they leave for their own homes. When Mr. Mildew and the kids wake up, they find a working, tidy home and a farewell note from the traumatized Aunt Ivy. Mr. Mildew discovers his new invention suddenly works, and he tells he kids they might be rich. Tumtum, much recovered, and Nutmeg decide not to have any additional adventures. They choose to live happily ever after.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Aunt Ivy is a cantankerous and miserable soul who drags others down with her. She becomes obsessed with destroying the mice at Rose Cottage. Mr. Mildew spends all his time working on his inventions, neglecting his home and kids. General Marchmouse loves the excitement of war and looks forward to additional battles. He falls asleep at his post and almost botches the attack.

Profanity & Violence


Sexual Content

Nutmeg kisses Tumtum on the nose.

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at

Additional Comments

Alcohol/Smoking: Some of the mice smoke cigars and drink port. Aunt Ivy smokes cigarettes.

Attitudes toward women: The General dismisses Nutmeg as “only a housewife,” but Nutmeg ends up formulating the battle plan that foils Aunt Ivy.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book’s review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.