Tag Archives: Cooperation

PPBF -By Mouse & Frog

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.

T9780670784905itle: 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.

The Sleeping Grump: A Valentiny Tale

When I read the rules for the First Annual Pretty Much World Famous Valentiny Writing Contest hosted by the lovely Susanna Hill (kid-friendly, 214 words max, with a grumpy character), I thought immediately of an old family favorite – The Sleeping Grump: A Cooperative Game (Family Pastimes, 1981). While the Grump in this Valentiny story may or may not be a giant ogre and while the goal may not be to steal his treasure (while leaving some for him in the spirit of true cooperation and sharing), I hope I’ve captured his sleepy, grumpy character and the essence of the game.

Note: some of you may recognize the characters. Margaret tried to arrange the perfect picture for Mama in Perfect Christmouse Pic’, as brothers Mick and Tim thwarted her every move. Can the trio work together on Valentine’s Day to out-manoeuvre the Sleeping Grump?
images

The Sleeping Grump: A Valentiny Tale

Outside, snowflakes swirl. Wind roars; Grump snores. Inside, red glitter scatters, red candies crunch underpaw.  Red tempers flare.

“Give it back!”

“That’s mine!”

“Fuddliwinks!”

“One more to make. Then we’ll put on our red shoes! Dance! Party,” Margaret shimmies.

“Party-schmarty,” Mick teases. “You’re just making a Valentine for Wondermouse!”

Mick and Tim prance, grab Valentine, chant, “Margaret has a boyfriend!”

Margaret snatches Valentine, scampers outside. Screech! She freezes. Tiptoes around snow-covered

“Grump,” she whispers, “Asleep!” Grump stirs. Margaret scurries inside.

“No need to fear, Mighty Mouse is here,” Mick cries, swipes crumpled Valentine. “Grump can’t seize me! I’ve got a cloak for invisibility.” Mick twirls outside. Cloak swirls across Grump’s eyes. They open, shut. Mick disappears inside.

“I’m an Alien! This is Major Mouse, dropping through!” Tim flies, nabs Valentine, catapults

Flop! Ker-plop! Nosedives!

“Ha-ha-ha-chew!”

“Eew! Goo! Smarmy Alien, coming through.”

Grump snivels, sobs, pokes goopy nose inside.

“There’s gotta be a better way,” Margaret reasons. “If together, we…and then…until finally…”

Margaret tiptoes towards Grump. Mick carries cloak-covered bundle. Tim catapults with

“Valentine? For me,” Grump asks.

“Cookies,” Mick reveals. “For you,” Margaret smiles, “Please let us pass.”

“Valentine! For me,” Grump grins.

The trio trudge past…into drifts. “Too much snow! No party, no-how,” Margaret sighs.

Grump grins.”Snow-schmo! On my back! Let’s go!”