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Scaredy Mouse


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In this sometimes overdone offering, a succession of household objects scares a nervous mouse because of their resemblance to the household cat. Squeak's older sister entices him to the kitchen to eat cake, assuring him first that the household cat is asleep and, second, that he won't get lost (she ties a ball of string to his tail). The little mouse's glimpses of what seems to be the cat (variously, a cushion, feather duster, toy, etc.) invariably produce the same hullabaloo: "Squeak ran this way and that, willy-nilly, round and back." When the forbidding feline actually does appear, he gets trussed up in Squeak's string, "a mad cat, a sad cat, a feeling-like-a-fool cat," and Squeak is no longer a "worried mouse, a scared mouse, a want-to-go-home mouse" but a "bold-as-a-lion mouse." Warnes (Can't You Sleep, Dotty?) supplies Squeak with a little stuffed mouse of his own and a good vocabulary of anxious facial expressions, but the visual transitions can be abrupt. For example, the picture of Squeak's discovery that a "long stripy tail" is actually a scarf shares a spread with a scene depicting Squeak's terror of another object. While MacDonald (Beware of the Bears) implicitly encourages readers to face down their fears, his coy use of language may come across as patronizing, undermining his message of empowerment. Ages 3-7. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

PreS-Gr 1-"Stay-at-home" Squeak is a fearful mouse. One evening, however, his sister, Nibbles, entices him to head to the kitchen from their safe place under the stairs for a "chocolate cake as big as a wheel." He is afraid of the family's ginger cat and of getting lost, but he loves chocolate. To insure that he can find his way home, Nibbles ties a string around his tummy. On their way to the kitchen, they see a "long, stripy tail," and Squeak is sure that it's the cat, but, no, it is only a scarf. After other false alarms, the siblings reach their goal-and also encounter the dreaded feline. Luckily, he gets tangled in Squeak's string and is no threat after all. The little mouse conquers his fears, and from then on greets the cat with a big "Boo." Warnes's large watercolor-and-ink illustrations are well suited for group sharing-the characters' facial expressions are humorous, and the layout is pleasant. Unfortunately, it's a one-joke plot. Better books on overcoming fears include Jez Alborough's It's the Bear! (Candlewick, 1994) and Ken Baker's Brave Little Monster (HarperCollins, 2001).-Roxanne Burg, Thousand Oaks Library, CA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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