Mice

Rose Fyleman, Author, Lois Ehlert, Illustrator
Rose Fyleman, illus. by Lois Ehlert. S&S/Beach Lane, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4424-5684-6
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A 1932 poem from Fyleman (1877–1957) serves as a springboard for Ehlert’s customarily striking handiwork. Such pointed verse as “I think mice/ are rather nice./ Their tails are long,/ their faces small./ They haven’t any chins at all” is ripe for visual interpretation, and Ehlert’s playfulness, wit, and exposition elevate the brief text to something to be savored more carefully. Ehlert’s wide-eyed rodents are composed of collaged elements: textured, torn-paper triangles form faces and bodies (the fibrous edges of the handmade papers suggest fur), the mice’s rectangular buck teeth convey a dopey cuteness, and their ropy legs are made of knotted and frayed string. As the mice scamper across the pages (“They nibble things they shouldn’t touch”) Ehlert labels the items they find, turning the story into an introduction to art supplies, household items, and food items that range from mangos and avocadoes to cereal and desserts (in one memorable scene, the duo dives headfirst into a pair of rainbow-sprinkled cupcakes). Better still, the surprise revelation of the poem’s narrator provides a zingy sense of delight. Ages 3–5. Illustrator’s agent: Eden Street Literary. (Oct.)
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