No one can tell a story quite the way Patricia McKissack does. I've seen other versions of this fable, but her story of the band of mice working together is enjoyable and teaches great lessons about cooperation, problem-solving, resourcefulness, and perseverance. The sad part is that the mice save the cat, but once they have nursed her back to health, she terrorizes them. I suppose another lesson is that we are all true to our own natures, whatever they may be. Once they begin looking for ways to protect themselves, the ingenuity of the little creatures clearly shows. The creation of the collar and the various schemes to get it onto the cat all pull readers into the plight of the mouse community.
Illustrations depict a barn with straw, wooden walls, and mice peeking though cracks and knotholes. Marmalade the cat is a vibrant tabby with wicked claws and teeth and glowing yellow eyes. Rats are long, lean and roughly furred in contrast to the rounder, softer-looking mice with their chubby cheeks. After one of the belling attempts, the scene shows Smart Mouse and Friend Mouse pulling one of the smaller triplets (Tiny, Teeny, and Wee Mouse), back up to a rafter out of Marmalade's reach. The other two triplets are already on the rafter; one is cowering with its paws over its eyes, while the other lies on its back and grasps its tail as if making sure it is still attached.
Highly recommended - a perfect story for discussing lifeskills, enjoying a tale of brave friends working for the good of their community, or to use with a lesson/unit on fables. This is the first book Christopher Cyr has illustrated, but with a debut like this, there are bound to be many more in the future.
I received an F&G from the publisher for review purposes.
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