cover image King Mouse

King Mouse

Cary Fagan, illus. by Dena Seiferling. Tundra, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7352-6404-5

Newcomer Seiferling creates striking, silvery graphite spreads to illustrate this story by Fagan (What Are You Doing, Benny?), a fable about what happens when status turns heads. After a sleek mouse dons a tiny crown he finds in the grass, a bear asks if he is a king. “Yes,” the mouse says. “I am.” “Hail to the king,” the bear promptly replies. In the story’s richest sequence, the bear and other animals offer the mouse seeds, then entertain him with a performance (“They rehearsed over and over”). The mouse, for his part, accepts this treatment as his due. But when the other animals find more crowns, all dropped in the grass by a child, they announce that they’re royals, too, parading around in a circle of folly: “Long live me!” Only the bear finds no crown, and he wanders away, despondent. The mouse notices, offers the bear a kindly gift, and the two watch the sunset together, pale color entering the spreads as the sun sets and their friendship grows. Fagan develops with dry wit the story of the crowns and the way they skew the animals’ judgment, ending the tale on a wistful, affectionate note. Ages 3–7. [em](Sept.) [/em]