Overall, Bernard Pepperlin is a sweet story. We have a hero mouse, with a familiar past, showing what the little guy can do. The story of Bernard (aka The Dormouse of one famous tea party), is one of courage, community, friendship and even, mistakes.
The introduction by Cara Hoffman tells how Bernard came to life by telling about special friends, young sons and lots of hard work. Her text is smooth and well done. The illustrations are sparse, but what Olga Demidova has done is cute and clever. They are black and white, yet, this does not distract from the feeling of the story. If anything, it keeps with that “old-school” and classic feeling.
This basically sequel to Alice in Wonderland brings to light why there was an eternal tea party; it shows how magic is real; it is hard work to do the right thing and sometimes it only takes one mouse to stand up, for others to follow.
There are a few scenes that might be slightly intense for very sensitive readers. The main story plot is that a group of weasels (at least everyone thinks the Pork Pipe Hat gang are weasels) want to make all modern-day New York City just like them: lazy and never doing anything. Just being a captive audience because time is literally standing still. Therefore, to stop it, Bernard and his new friends stage a battle against the weasels and (spoiler alert) the weasels do not make it out alive.
Also, there is talk earlier in the book where the falcon, Hunter, tells of a meal she just had, so Bernard should not worry, she will not eat him; this time. Plus, when Bernard was “just” the dormouse, there are a couple of scenes where the Hatter is entirely cruel to his supposed friend.
There are fantastical elements. Animals and humans live side-by-side, and even though some humans can understand the animals, they are not noticing cockroaches are putting on shows with a song called, The Girl from the Spoon Drawer and frogs are wearing snazzy tweed coats.
It is an odd, quirky, likable book. I see sequels, even if they are not about Bernard again. There were other fun characters one could follow.