cover image Mr. McMouse

Mr. McMouse

Leo Lionni / Author Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers $1

Life as a happy handsome city mouse ends abruptly for Timothy when he looks into the mirror one morning and sees ``a strange creature dressed in black staring at him.'' His brown ears and furry gray body have been replaced by a human-like form sporting a man's hat and coat; only a long tail links him to his original incarnation. Fleeing the city in panic, Timothy seeks refuge in a typically quixotic, Lionni-esque countryside adorned with marbleized trees and paisley boulders. A band of field mice, reassured by the hero's tail, dub him Mr. McMouse and offer membership in their group--if he can pass a battery of tests and earn a field mouse license. The artist's trademark cut paper collages colorfully and succinctly illustrate Timothy's quest, though unfortunately the narrative here is a minor one. This slight tale's opening, in particular, may confuse little ones--why does Timothy change, and exactly who or what does he become? Still, Lionni ( Swimmy ; A Busy Year ) provides Timothy with a hero's ending and weaves a gentle message of self-awareness into this offbeat tale. Ages 2-6. (Oct.)