by Leo Lionni

New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1967

28 pp.

Age: 3+

Interests: mice, poetry, the artist’s life

Also by this author: Swimmy, Inch by Inch, Alexander and the Wind-up Mouse

While the other mice are storing food for winter Frederick stores up warmth from the sun, colours and words. As the mice grow cold and bored in the midst of a long winter, Frederick speaks, reminding them of the sun’s warmth and summer days. And… is it magic? They actually feel warmer and see the colours in their minds. Frederick is a poet!

A direct answer to the old Aesop’s fable “The Ant and Grasshopper” – where the ant works to store food for winter but the grasshopper plays away his days. In the middle of the winter the grasshopper comes to the ant, starving and cold, but the ant turns him away. As an antidote to that rather harsh tale, Frederick defends the role of the arts in society. (Pretty lofty ambition for a simple picture book!) The poet serves a vital role in a stressful, hard-working society, in that he/she is able to make life more beautiful and the hard times easier to bear.

Funny that I’d come across this book right after writing about “The Ant and the Grasshopper” in my last commentary. If you are really gung-ho for a deep discussion, why not read both the Aesop fable and this book?

Both the illustrations and story are deceptively simple and the mice are extremely cute, making this a great story for little ones, but should also be thought-provoking for older children as well. This would be a great story for any child with an artistic inclination, as a first glimpse at what the artistic life is all about.

(This title on amazon.)


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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.
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