Then get MAD!! Really really really MAD!!
MOUSE WAS MAD by Linda Urban, pictures by Henry Cole,
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009), Picture book for ages 4-8, 40 pp.
The thing is, you won’t stay mad for very long. You simply can’t. That’s because this brilliantly fine-tuned, adorable, endlessly endearing charmer of a book will steal your heart away at first reading — and you’ll find yourself madly in love with it!
Seriously. For me, this one stole the big cheese. Linda’s telling demonstrates picture book writing at its finest. At the center of the storm is Mouse — tiny in size, but experiencing a rage so huge, he’s hoppin’, stompin’, screaming, rolling-around-on-the-ground mad. As he struggles to express his anger, Hare, Bear, Bobcat and Hedgehog come along and show him how it’s really done, but poor Mouse can’t get it right, flopping, splooshing and splushing into one mucky mud puddle after another.
Finally, he reaches the point of being standing-still mad. And guess what? Nobody can outdo him. Not Bobcat, whose “ears twitched.” Not Hare, who “could not keep his tail from wiggling.” Certainly not Bear, because “when he breathed deep, trees moved and the ground shook a little.” Sigh. Not even Hedgehog — “even he could not keep his bristles from bristling.”
Hare, Bear, Bobcat and Hedgehog in awe of Mouse’s singular skill.
I can’t say enough about the perfect pacing of this story, or the precise comic timing of the dialogue — spare though it may be, it’s always right on target and speaks volumes.
And Henry Cole’s art? Blissfully, beautifully, dynamically expressive. With ink, pencil, and watercolor, he charts every stage of Mouse’s anger, in all its teeth gritting, whisker bending, eyeball squinching glory. I can say with full confidence that one would be very hard pressed to find any child, (or adult, for that matter), who, while reading this story, wouldn’t be thoroughly engaged and amused by Mouse’s transition from livid to laughing. A great story for little ones building social skills, with a nod to the primacy of self expression.
Mouse tries to express his anger by screaming.
Mouse Was Mad recently received a decidedly ebullient review from Kirkus, who says, “Urban unfurls the gentle ‘be true to yourself’ moral perfectly, with plenty of funny dialogue, overplayed reaction and the enduring appeal of the tiny hero. . . Who knew standing still could be so dramatic?” I couldn’t agree more, and whole heartedly give this book my highest five spoon rating!
Speaking of spoons, grab one right now and slurp some celebration soup in honor of Linda. For today only, feel free to hop, stomp, scream, or roll yourself silly in our edible muck — sop, sip, guzzle, and gulp with gusto till your whiskers are awash! And thank you, Linda, for writing such an awesome book!
Today’s Special: Mud Puddle Soup served with cheese hearts (for best flavor, consume while sitting perfectly still).
The perfect way to top off our celebration? A piece of chocolate mud cake:
photo by food pornographer
Alrighty then, scamper over to your local indie and scoop up your very own copy of Mouse Was Mad. It’ll have you jumping for joy!
(photo by jeffffd)
For more about Linda and her books, visit her official website and Live Journal blog, Crooked Perfect. Mouse Was Mad is her first published picture book, on the heels of her highly acclaimed middle grade novel, A Crooked Kind of Perfect, which came out in 2007 (I lurved that one, too)!
See all the Soup of the Day posts here.
*Mad face #1 courtesy of tylerburkphotography; mad face #2 by tassava.
**Spreads posted by permission, text copyright © 2009 Linda Urban, illustrations © 2009 Henry Cole, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.