Anatole

Anatole by Eve Titus, illustrated by Paul Galdone

AnatoleAnatole is a happy mouse who lives with his wife and children in a mouse village not far from Paris.  Each evening, mice from the village travel to Paris (by bicycle) to human homes to get food.

One night, while he is in a house finding food, Anatole overhears humans talking about how horrible mice are – dirty thieves who take food and cause nibbled food to be thrown out.  Anatole is deeply upset by this.  His good friend tells him that is just the way things are – that humans are humans and mice are mice – and not to let it bother him.

 

“But I never dreamed they regarded us this way,” cried the unhappy Anatole.  “It is horrible to feel scorned and unwanted!  Where is my self-respect?  My pride?  MY HONOR?”

Anatole’s wife understands his shock, and wishes there was a way to give the humans something in return for the food — which gives Anatole an idea.

The next night, instead of raiding houses like the other mice, Anatole goes to the Duval Cheese Factory, and finds his way to the Cheese Tasting Room.  He spends a long time there, carefully tasting each cheese and leaving little signs saying if the cheese is good – or if not what would improve it.  Finally, feeling that he has done honorable work, Anatole takes some cheese home to his family.

The next day, the humans in the cheese factory are surprised by the notes, but realize that this Anatole is correct in his judgements of the cheese.  They try his advice in making cheese.  Every night Anatole goes to work tasting cheese and leaving his opinions.  The humans want to know who is helping them, and leave a note asking to meet him.  Anatole replies that he prefers to remain unknown.  Eventually, the humans leave another note – proclaiming Anatole ‘First Vice-President in Charge of Cheese-Tasting’ and offering him as much cheese (and French Bread, and pastries) as he would like, whenever he would like.

And so, Anatole continues working at the cheese factory – an honorable profession – and becomes “the happiest, most contented mouse in all France.”

This is a sweet, slightly old fashioned book, written in 1956.  The illustrations are black and white – and red and blue.  Who knows, it could lead to interesting discussions with children on honor, or on working for something.

Upstairs Mouse, Downstairs Mole

Upstairs Mouse, Downstairs Mole by Wong Herbert Yee

upstairs-mouse-downstairs-moleMouse and Mole are neighbors, sharing the same tree.  They are friends, and they have their differences.  But, as friends, they try to work out any conflicts with some creative problem solving.

Mole sweeps his hole every morning to keep it tidy.  Mouse sweeps her house every evening – and the dirt falls down into Mole’s hole.  When Mole complains, they come up with a solution.  Together they sweep Mouse’s house, then sweep Mole’s hole.

Mole invites Mouse to lunch.  But, Mole’s hole is dark (Mouse can’t see very well), and damp (Mouse shivers), and she doesn’t like worms.  Mouse invites Mole to dinner.  But, Mouse’s house is bright (Mole can’t see very well), and the smell of Limburger cheese makes his stomach upset.  The solution:  Mole gives Mouse some candles to bring to his hole, and Mouse gives Mole a pair of sunglasses to wear when he visits her house – and they go out for cheesecake and worms.

These are sweet stories – told in four chapters – with colorful illustrations on each page.  The overall feel reminds me of the Frog and Toad books (by Arnold Lobel), with friendship and interesting ways of looking at situations.  This is a good book for young readers who are ready for paragraphs and short chapters.

The Cricket in Times Square

cricket-in-times-squareThe Cricket in Times Square by George Selden, illustrated by Garth Williams

Chester Cricket was a country cricket.  He enjoyed hopping around in his meadow, sitting on his stump, and eating liverwurst.  Chester Cricket hopped onto a picnic blanket to eat part of a liverwurst sandwich – and found himself bundled up with the sandwich into a picnic basket and, via, trains and the subway, he ended up in a pile of dirt in the Times Square subway station.

Chester Cricket made some very good friends in the Times Square subway station.  Mario, whose family owned a newspaper stand, heard Chester’s chirp and carefully dug him out of the dirt and trash – and made a home for him in the newspaper stand.  Harry Cat and Tucker Mouse, who lived together in a drain pipe in the Times Square subway station, became Chester’s friends – talking with him or showing him around whenever the humans were away.

Chester had some adventures with Harry and Tucker like seeing Times Square at night, and sleeping in the newspaper stand cash register (and waking up to find he’d eaten some money).  When Tucker turned on the newspaper stand radio late one night, Chester discovered that he could make music like the tunes he heard on the radio.  Tucker, Harry, and Chester tried out different radio stations and types of music – from opera to pop – and found that Chester could play everything he heard beautifully.

Mario’s family didn’t have much money.  The newspaper stand barely made any money.  When Chester began to make music that humans recognized  – opera, classical, and popular tunes – people crowded around the newspaper stand to listen, and bought newspapers and magazines.

Eventually, Chester grew tired of performing concerts at the newspaper stand.  He gave one last private concert for Mario, then (with Tucker and Harry’s help) got on a train headed out to the country.

This is a wonderful story – full of friendship, problem-solving, and music.

Mouse Mess

Mouse Mess by Linnea Riley

Mouse-MessWhat would a house, or a kitchen, look like to a mouse?  What happens when the humans go upstairs at night?

Riley’s brightly illustrated story tells of a busy mouse’s adventures in a nighttime kitchen.  The story, told with a single line per page, has the curious mouse explore various foods, and make quite a mess in the process.

Some of Mouse’s activities are children’s favorites with a twist.  Mouse rakes up corn flakes with a fork, then runs and jumps into the pile.  Mouse tips over the brown sugar, then builds a sand castle with it.  Sometimes he just gets messy.  Mouse opens jars and tips the milk over.  After a while, he takes a look around him.

“Mouse steps back. He looks around.  He can’t believe the mess he’s found.  ‘Who make this awful mess?’ asks Mouse.  ‘These people need to clean their house.'”

Mouse continues with his evening, taking a bubble bath in a tea cup, then heads back to his nest just as the humans come back down the stairs in the morning.

“Now that Mouse is clean and fed, he leaves the mess and goes….to bed!”

This is a wonderfully silly story that will have the youngest children giggling at Mouse’s antics.