cover image Mouse Count

Mouse Count

Ellen Stoll Walsh. Harcourt Children's Books, $15 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-15-256023-2

The protagonists of Walsh's Mouse Paint return, with a few companions, to bring another basic concept to life for toddlers: this time, the numbers from one to 10. ``Mouse Count!,'' a greedy snake proclaims, and gathers them up until he has filled his dinner jar to the brim. The clever mice distract the snake long enough to tip over the container and run home to safety. Although Walsh's simple cut-paper figures once again display a naive charm and exuberance, her new book may well prove frightening to little ones. The image of the snake carrying a hapless rodent by its tail--``First I will count them and then I will eat them up,''--is an unsettling one. Though the mice do escape, impressionable imaginations already will have been alarmed. Also, the concept of the fleeing rodents ``uncounting'' (reciting backward the numbers 10 to one) is doubtless beyond the reach of the intended audience. Ages 2-6. (Mar.)