Every Friday morning I read stories and sing songs with a group of toddlers at the Cover to Cover bookstore in San Francisco. This week our theme is mice.
A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker. Bear is a grumpy drama queen and he doesn’t want any visitors. But a small gray mouse is persistent and eventually bear realises that it’s great to have an audience. This is an awesome read aloud book, as the bear’s outrage gets worse you can really go to town on the drama! The illustrations are beautiful and detailed and it’s easy but fun to find where the mouse has appeared this time.
The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear by Audrey Wood. A sweet take on the modern archetype of the American con artist. Our smooth talking narrator manages to convince the mouse that there’s a big hungry bear coming and the best thing he can do to protect his strawberry is to share it with us and eat it. When you’ve finished the book, ask your toddler to find the picture of the bear in the book. Of course, there isn’t one.
Mousepaint by Ellen Stoll Walsh. Three mice experiment with colour and discover the joys of camoflage.
The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson. My favourite read aloud author and this is one of her best. A cunning mouse manages to hold off being eaten by inventing a monster friend, but when the monster friend turns out to be real, the hero has to do some quick thinking.
Frederick by Leo Lioni. This book is very popular, particularly in California and the illustrations are disarmingly similar to Eric Carle’s. However it’s a product of the Summer of Love and as such it leaves reality far far away. Frederick is a mouse who instead of gathering food for the winter, gathers, sunshine, colours and words. Surprisingly the other mice don’t leave him to starve and he manages to brighten their winter with stories and poetry. Even the most idealistic of post-beat poets would probably agree that maybe Frederick should have gathered some food as well as working on his magnum opus. Or maybe that’s my protestant work ethic shining through. In any case it certainly resonates with small children for whom the practicalities of life are dealt with by somebody else.
I’ll be singing “The Bear Went Over the Mountain”, “A Mouse in a Windmill” and “There’s a Monster in My Closet”