Mice make great characters. Remember the one who ran up the clock? And the three blind ones? Everyone likes a good mouse story. (We hear there’s an entire World – and a Land – built by a certain mouse in red shorts.) Here are a couple of our favorite mouse books.
Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh
Young children are drawn to bright, bold colors, particularly the primary red, yellow, and blue. This book taps into a child’s playful curiosity about color and teaches a few lessons about how those primary colors combine to form the rest of the spectrum. The three white mice in Walsh’s story dip themselves in paint jars and begin an adventure in color exploration that will delight young artists and their parents.
When I was a kindergarten teacher, we read this book and then used finger paints to learn about color and addition. Children chose a color for each hand, made a print of each, and then smooched their hands together to create two handprints of the combination color. For example, one red hand plus one blue hand equals two purple hands. They loved it. If you’re at home and want to get really messy, try one yellow foot plus one blue foot equals two green feet (just like the mice in the story stepped into each other’s colorful footprints). It was all I could to to stop 20 5 year-olds from placing their purple and green hands all over my bookshelves and chalkboard, so I never did try the footprint version. Maybe when Zelda is bigger, I’ll give it a whirl.
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff
The lesson we learn from this (somewhat needy but adorable) mouse is that “one thing leads to another.” You try to be nice and give the mouse a cookie, but that is just the beginning of a long series of “if _ , then _” scenarios. Children love the silliness of the mouse needing one thing after another and will identify with the character’s logic. Numeroff had such tremendous success with this book that she wrote a whole slew of spin-offs. There’s a pig (with a pancake) and a moose (with a muffin) that think like the mouse, too. In my elementary classroom, I used this book to introduce the idea of a logical sequence of events. When young writers first begin to tell stories, they have to be reminded that a plot must unfold with reasonable cause and effect. The all-to-common “and then aliens came down and zapped everyone” plot twist doesn’t work very well in most narratives. This book illustrates how easy it is to create simple effects to match each cause. The mouse teaches us that cookies need milk, beverages need straws, naps need stories, and busy little mice (and kids) eventually will get hungry and need a cookie.
*Mommy’s all time favorite mouse book is The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo, but Zelda is still a little young for that one.