I purchased By Mouse & Frog at a conference I recently attended and where I had the pleasure of meeting the delightful Deborah Freedman, its talented author/illustrator. I was instantly drawn to this book based on the cover artwork, but it’s the story of the creative process told within its covers that makes By Mouse & Frog a Perfect Picture Book.
Title: By Mouse & Frog
Written & Illustrated By: Deborah Freedman
Publisher/date: Viking Penguin Young Readers Group/2015
Suitable for Ages: 3-5
Themes/Topics: friendship; cooperation; creativity
Opening: “One morning, Mouse woke up especially early, eager to write a brand-new story.”
Brief Synopsis: Quiet, organized Mouse is writing a quiet story when his exuberant friend, Frog, arrives, interrupts and inserts his own jumble of characters and events into the story. When Mouse cries “Stop,” and hurts Frog’s feelings, the two must learn to work together to create their own story.
Links to Resources:
Deborah Freedman has a study guide for By Mouse & Frog. Ideas include:
- Pass on the Story: each child takes a turn adding a sentence or two to a group story;
- Finish Mouse’s story that begins “Once upon a time, Mouse woke up early and set the table…”
- Siblings, friends or classmates together create a large picture together with each person adding to the scene. This could be a terrific rainy day activity.
Why I Like this Book:
At its heart, this is a story about two friends who learn to work together to create something that combines the best of their styles. On another level, it’s an insight into the creative process: from the barebones, straightforward story that Mouse envisions to the thoroughly chaotic world that Frog conjures up, to the balanced story that results when they combine their talents and work together.
This book would work well in a classroom setting with young children, as a roadmap for siblings to work together, and even as an example of give-and-take team building for teens and adults. As Mouse and Frog come to realize, structure without imagination is boring while exuberance without structure quickly gets out of hand. By blending the two, with some negotiating between siblings/friends/teammates, a better story, or project, results.
By Mouse & Frog combines simple text, primarily dialogue, and amazing artwork. The book begins with Mouse’s uncluttered pencil drawings against a white backdrop, crescendos as Frog’s characters and story elements appear as line drawings against a pastel background, and culminates with…you’ll have to read the book to find out!
This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!
Susanna takes a break during the summer months. I plan to post – although I reserve the right to skip from time to time during particularly sunny spells and maybe even shake the format up a bit.