cover image Cheer Up, Mouse!

Cheer Up, Mouse!

Jed Henry. Houghton Mifflin, $12.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-547-68107-8

It can be a little dangerous to be depressed in Mouse’s neck of the woods. When his merrymaking animal friends realize that he’s sad, they assume that something akin to extreme sports is in order. They throw him in the deep end (“Splash and paddle, wash and wade—Cheer up, Mouse!”), toss him in the air (“Leap and lope, hop and jump—Cheer up, Mouse!”), and, believing “Hearty grub is what he needs,” offer to stuff him full of, well, grubs. But Chipmunk, who’s been on the sidelines, realizes what Mouse really needs: a simple but heartfelt hug. Henry (I Speak Dinosaur!) creates a lush but smartly distilled woodland setting and expertly choreographs a large cast, which includes gloriously hued bluebirds, a handsomely striped frog with big yellow eyes, and a soft furry mole. The emotional pitch is just right: Mouse never looks mad or scared at his friends’ antics, which are clearly meant with the best of intentions. When that hug comes—an action that Henry beautifully unfolds over three spreads—it’s a great moment in the history of empathy. Ages 4–8. Agent: Shannon Associates. (Jan.)