ONCE A MOUSE... A Fable Cut in Wood by Marcia Brown
Brown, M. (1961). Once a mouse. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. ISBN 10: 0684126621
Summary:The fable tells the story of a hermit who rescues a mouse from sure death at the hands of a crow. But the many dangers of the jungle lead the hermit, who is also magic, to continue changing the mouse into larger and larger animals until he turns him into a huge royal tiger. The mouse, is very proud of his large cat stature and begins strutting around the jungle putting on airs for all the other creatures. The hermit, after observing this behavior, puts the tiger in his place reminding him that he was once a mouse and can be again. Thinking he would never stand being a mouse again, the tiger plans to kill the hermit. However, the hermit reads his mind, changes the tiger back to a mouse and they both go back to how there lives were before.
I really enjoyed the woodcut illustrations in this book. They remind me of a book I had as a child about the Three Billy Goat's Gruff. At the time I didn't understand that the illustrations came from wood carvings, but now I have a better apprceciation for them. The story itself is very common for the time period; a moral is taught through the use of animals. My 6 year old daughter enjoyed the part where the mouse turned royal tiger is strutting around the jungle, lording over the other animals. But she mostly liked it so much because I played it up when I read it so she could understand that what he was doing was wrong.
Moral reasoning in the story focuses on self concern, self concern, and concern for fair process.
The theme of the story is Be grateful for what others have given to you. Copyright ©2005 University of Notre Dame - Center for Ethical Education (Retrieved September 19, 2009 from Goodmedia.nd.edu/reviews)
Teacher Tools & Library Leads:
This book best leads into a discussion of moral behavior about vanity and knowing your place in respect to elders. Other stories of similar moral teachings can be used to stress the lesson if you see the children are not comprehending the reason for the tiger being turned back into a mouse. The other idea that can be discussed it the one of remembering your roots. You hear many successful people discussing how they often go back to their neighborhood or schools to thank and reward those people who helped them become the success they are. It is important to teach to young children about being humble and thankful even if/when they move away and lead successful lives.
Coretta Scott King Award Winner
Curtis, C. P. (1999). Bud, not Buddy. New York: Delacorte Press. ISBN-10: 0-385-32306-9
Bud is a 10 year old orphan whose mom died when he was six, never telling Bud who his father was, but she left clues behind. For 4 years Bud lived in an orphanage or in and out of various foster homes, but when enough finally is enough, he heads out on his own. After several adventures, Bud decides to follow his mom's clues and confront who he thinks is his father. Set in Michigan during the Depression, the reader catches a good glimpse of how life was for African Americans and many other Americans during this difficult time.
I fell in love with Bud and his Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar Out of Yourself! I loved how he was scared of things he shouldn't be, and not scared of things he should be terrified by. I loved how he always said his "eyes don't cry no more", but when he finally finished his long journey and felt like he was home, that he cried and cried. But, as a future librarian, I truly loved his thoughts on librarians.
Christopher Paul Curtis made me laugh out loud while reading this book, and cry, and feel outraged, and happy. All the emotions blend together with the beautiful, "through the eyes of a 10 year old" descriptions to make a wonderful story that tells a little bit of what the Depression was like, not just for African Americans, but for many Americans. So many history lessons to be taught and discussed here, I just wished that I had heard about the Depression from this book when I was in History class!
Reviews:From School Library Journal: (Excerpt)
When 10-year-old Bud Caldwell runs away from his new foster home, he realizes he has nowhere to go but to search for the father he has never known: a legendary jazz musician advertised on some old posters his deceased mother had kept. A friendly stranger picks him up on the road in the middle of the night and deposits him in Grand Rapids, MI, with Herman E. Calloway and his jazz band... The lively humor contrasts with the grim details of the Depression-era setting and the particular difficulties faced by African Americans at that time. Kathleen Isaacs, Edmund Burke School, Washington, DC Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. (Retrieved September 19, 2009, from Amazon.com)
From Booklist: (Excerpt)
Bud, 10, is on the run from the orphanage and from yet another mean foster family. His mother died when he was 6, and he wants to find his father. Set in Michigan during the Great Depression, this is an Oliver Twist kind of foundling story, but it's told with affectionate comedy... On his journey, Bud finds danger and violence (most of it treated as farce), but more often, he finds kindness--in the food line, in the library, in the Hooverville squatter camp, on the road--until he discovers who he is and where he belongs. Told in the boy's naive, desperate voice, with lots of examples of his survival tactics ("Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar out of Yourself"), this will make a great read-aloud. Hazel Rochman (Retrieved September 19, 2009, from Amazon.com)
Teacher Tools & Library Leads:
This book lends itself to many lessons including the treatment of children in orphanages and foster homes; the Depression and what it was and how it affected people of all ages; and of course the treatment of African Americans in the early and mid-1900's that led to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's.
For older children who will be working soon, the discussion of early Labor Unions and present day Unions is an important conversation worth having.