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Review: MOUSE WAS MAD

I've been having crazy luck lately winning blog contests. Last week (or the week before?!) I entered Cynthia Lord's contest for a copy of Mouse was Mad, by Linda Urban.



I really didn't expect to win. I mean, the luck had to break sometime, right? I just couldn't resist. Cynthia wanted us to comment with our favorite tantrum from kids' lit, and I don't pass up any chance to remind people about Mary out-screaming Colin in The Secret Garden.

And I won. :)

I really love this book.

Too often when I read very young picture books, ones with "simple" storylines and just a few sentences on a page, I find myself relying on the art to really show me the personality and conflicts of the animals. Henry Cole's illustrations are perfect, and they certainly add wonderful layers to Linda's story. But the story itself, the words in Mouse was Mad caught me, all by themselves.

Just a short excerpt, from when Mouse gets "standing-still mad." 

     "Impressive," said Hare.
     "What control," said Bear.
     "Are you breathing?" asked Hedgehog.

Even if we didn't have the picture of Mouse, frozen in place, this dialog would tell us how dramatic his anger is, the power he has achieved in not moving. And what parent doesn't remember that feeling, that Urban gets in so beautifully, of watching their child in full-anger mode and wondering if their face isn't turning just a little too red, if they can possibly be getting enough oxygen?

Each of the other characters has their own distinct personality. My 13-year-old son picked up the book shortly after I read it. He said that Bear clearly has a bit of a "superiority complex," and I think he's right. Hedgehog reminds me of people I know, well-meaning, but a bit pedantic. He's got one of my favorite lines in the book--"The best rolling is achieved when the body is a perfect sphere." 

By the end of the book, I was not just smiling, but I was laughing out loud. And knowing that this is a book that will not just entertain, but help. Probably one of the reasons I've always loved Mary's tantrum in The Secret Garden is that I had my own share of anger fits when I was young. Okay, and when I was (am) not so young. My son knows that feeling of being so filled-to-the-brim with frustration that you have to hop, or stomp, or scream, or roll. He's learned much earlier than I did that the best thing to do with this feeling is be still, and he knows that a book is often the best place to find that stillness.

Mouse was Mad is, I think, a book that young children will carry with them, to read and reread, and to remind them that they, too, can find ease within themselves.

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
lurban
Jun. 16th, 2009 10:25 am (UTC)
Oh Becky! I am so glad that you enjoyed the book. Love "superiority complex". Smart son, yours.
beckylevine
Jun. 16th, 2009 03:09 pm (UTC)
Linda, it's such a fun book. I really think Mouse is perfect. :)
jamarattigan
Jun. 16th, 2009 11:53 am (UTC)
Yay for Mouse! LOVE this book and enjoyed hearing your reactions to it :).
beckylevine
Jun. 16th, 2009 03:09 pm (UTC)
I'm with you, Jama. So good!
(Anonymous)
Jun. 16th, 2009 03:25 pm (UTC)
YAY!! Linda!
Oh, I haven't seen it yet, but it sounds **wonderful**. Picture books are the hardest form, I think. I admire and envy writers who can do it well.


kathleen duey
beckylevine
Jun. 16th, 2009 03:27 pm (UTC)
Re: YAY!! Linda!
Kathleen, I think Mouse would be a great book to study to learn how to do it right! :)
amygreenfield
Jun. 16th, 2009 03:36 pm (UTC)
Yay for Linda! And yay for Mouse!

And I love that you chose the Mary and Colin scene. That's one of my favorites, too. What a match they were for each other!
beckylevine
Jun. 16th, 2009 03:46 pm (UTC)
Yay for everyone who gets to read the book. :)
ext_175581
Jun. 16th, 2009 03:57 pm (UTC)
I love books I can enjoy as much as my children do. And, as I have one or two that sounds like Mouse, I think I'll be looking for this one.
beckylevine
Jun. 16th, 2009 03:59 pm (UTC)
I think kids would like it a lot. And it might turn into one of those they sort of use/rely on.
kellyrfineman
Jun. 16th, 2009 07:20 pm (UTC)
Lovely, pitch-perfect review.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )