cover image Mouseling’s Words

Mouseling’s Words

Shutta Crum, illus. by Ryan O’Rourke. Clarion, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-544-30216-7

Aesop’s “The Lion and the Mouse” gets an affectionate word lover’s makeover. The young mouse who narrates lives with his family among scraps of words taken from a restaurant’s specials menu. Eventually, Mouseling’s siblings leave home, but he clings to the comfort of his parents’ nest—until his father says, “You need to get a job.” And so Mouseling becomes a word collector, risking “heart and snout” to acquire new ones even as they bring him within range of a library cat. Crum (Uh-Oh!) has a good feel for the physicality of language: Mouseling enjoys puckering up his mouth to say “noodles,” and when he says “fur” he can “feel its softness whir in my throat.” O’Rourke (Up! Up! Up! Skyscraper) illustrates from a mouse’s perspective, creating a big, shadowy world full of adventure and potential danger for Mouseling. When the cat finally corners Mouseling it’s to show him a book (turned to Aesop’s aforementioned fable), which Mouseling happily reads aloud—a tribute to the way books can unite even the unlikeliest of friends. Ages 4–7. Author’s agent: Liza Voges, Eden Street Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Emily Mitchell, Wernick & Pratt. (Dec.)