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Mice Squeak, We Speak


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About the Author

Arnold Shapiro is the author of charmingly insightful picture books such as Mice Squeak, We Speak and Who Says That?

Tomie dePaola (www.tomie.com) is the acclaimed author and/or illustrator of more than 250 books for children. His books range from autobiographical stories to retellings of folktales and legends to original tales, such as the Strega Nona books. Tomie has received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, a Caldecott Honor for Strega Nona, and a Newbery Honor for his autobiographical chapter book, 26 Fairmount Avenue. The American Library Association said: "His works reflect an innate understanding of childhood, a distinctive visual style, and a remarkable ability to adapt his voice to perfectly suit the story." He was awarded the Smithson Medal, the Regina Medal, was designated a "living treasure" by the state of New Hampshire, and received the 2012 Original Art Lifetime Achievement Award given by the Society of Illustrators. He lives in New London, New Hampshire.


Simplicity is the soul of Shapiro's toddler-friendly poem about the different ways that animals and humans communicate ("Pigs squeal. Horses neigh. Chickens cluck. But I SAY!"). It's also at the heart of dePaola's crayon-bright artwork, a model of merry restraint. Along with a trio of the artist's trademark images of chunky, round-headed children (multicultural of course), the animals (and their sounds) are each depicted in a series of gaily bordered portraits that include just enough detail to suggest each critter's habitat‘a cozy rag rug for a tabby cat, a tree for a monkey, a muddy field for a pig. The spareness of line is carried over into the festive borders, which embellish the pages with polka dots, squiggles and zigzags set against backdrops in fresh shades of kiwi, cantaloupe, lemon and watermelon colors. A treat for the eye, this one is sure to delight during lap-time snuggles or preschool story hours‘and may well coax a baa or moo or two from the littlest ones. Ages 2-6. (Sept.)

PreS-Gr 1‘DePaola's latest offering combines his wonderfully detailed folk-art illustrations with a poem by Shapiro originally entitled "I Speak, I Say, I Talk." Three wide-eyed, enthusiastic guides, two boys and a girl, bear the message that every living thing has something to utter, but only humans talk. Speech balloons encapsulate their words. The two characters who aren't speaking listen and watch their friend with happy facial expressions. Brilliant watercolors and a vignette-style format make this book a perfect choice for read-aloud sessions. The animals represented are shown in their natural habitats: the bear snores while hibernating in a cave, the sheep bleats in the meadow, the frog croaks in the pond, etc. However, Shapiro's poem uses sounds that are not commonly identified with that animal. For example, "Crickets creak" rather than chirp; "Flies hum" rather than buzz. Still, this is an entertaining presentation of a concept not commonly introduced to young children.‘Susan Garland, Maynard Public Library, MA

Praise for Mice Squeak, We Speak

* "DePaola's exuberant illustrations in his best folk-art style will have kids joining in and shouting out the words."-
, starred review

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