friday feast: nibbling on janis ian’s the tiny mouse

Squeaking of mice, I’m simply head over tails in love with THE TINY MOUSE (Lemniscaat, 2013), veteran singer-songwriter Janis Ian’s jaunty, whimsical song-turned-picture book masterfully illustrated by Ingrid and Dieter Schubert.

Janis’s rollicking tale of adventure on the high seas is packed with whisker twitching, nose itching suspense, salty humor, and many a well-turned phrase set to a catchy tune that’ll have readers of all ages joyfully singing along in seconds flat.


There was a tiny mouse
who lived in a tiny house
full of drafts and doubts, and incredible things

But this dapper little fellow soon grows bored with the high life, so decides one day to go to sea so he can drink grog and sniff “occasional snuff.”

TM’s fancy digs made from garbage. (All illustrations © 2013 Ingrid and Dieter Schubert)

No sooner does he stow aboard than he gets seasick. After stumbling upon the Captain’s bathroom, he’s horrified to discover the Captain is a cat, who like many a fine feline, loves to snack on mousies.

Not wanting to end up as anyone’s fancy feast, our intrepid hero engineers a narrow escape via flounder sail and rudder, and then swims like the dickens for his life. Once safely on land, he marries a mouseketeer and soon fathers a boatload of children, whom he happily ever after regales with tasty tales of his aquatic adventures.

The Schuberts brilliantly portray this roguish rodent turned maritime mouse in all his nautical nattiness. From the tips of his curlicued whiskers to the tippy tip of his curlicued tail, he cuts a fine figure in his coattails, spats and cool specs.

A luscious jeweled toned palette, along with a raft of comely, surrealistic details (cat head jack-in-the-box, mercat on the ship’s prow, adorable mousie towel hooks, teensy milk bottles) will fascinate little landlubbers as they listen to the song. Naturally, I am particularly fond of the tiny mouse’s golden soup bowl and silver spoon, his checked apron and the wee wooden spoon he wields while telling his stories.

BW - TheTinyMouse_Page_03
(colors here appear differently from the book)

With morals like, “Always think before you sail” and “Always know what’s in the bowl before you eat,” this grass-is-always greener soup of the day is served up at precisely the right temperature.

Here, taste for yourself:

* * *

I’ve been a Janis fan since the 60’s, but this is the first time I’ve seen her light-hearted, playful, cuddly side. This video of outtakes, where she’s trying to teach her dog Gracie Mae how to read, is just adorable. How can you not love this white-haired, 4’9″ creative genius wearing sushi pajamas?

* * *

Mr Cornelius with his flotilla of veggie boats.

Janis originally wrote The Tiny Mouse for The Boat Project, a collaborative endeavor where people donated pieces of wood that were collaged into the sides of a 30-foot vessel. The artifacts and the stories that went with them are a living archive that was part of the 2012 London Olympics. Janis’s song was inspired by a wooden mouse that still sits atop the boat’s wheel.

* * *


written by Janis Ian
illustrated by Ingrid and Dieter Schubert
published by Lemniscaat, 2013
Picture Book for all ages
*Includes CD with three versions (vocal with guitar, vocal with band, instrumental for sing-along), sheet music with full lyrics
*Received  **Starred Reviews** from Kirkus and School Library Journal, and was named a 2013 Kirkus Children’s Book of the Year.

♥ Visit The Tiny Mouse Website for videos, sheet music, free MP3’s, a free poster, and 2 charming interviews with the Tiny Mouse himself conducted by journalist Janis Ian. 🙂

Click here for The Tiny Mouse Facebook Page

Mr Cornelius tries to rescue TM with his cheese sandwich boat.

* * *

poetryfriday180The beautiful and talented Robyn Hood Black is hosting this week’s Roundup at Life on the Deckle Edge. I’m sure she’d enjoy your serenading her with “The Tiny Mouse,” especially if you offer her a strawberry mouse and a piece of cheese. Check out today’s full Poetic Menu, and I wish you smooth sailing and happy whisker twitching as you enjoy all the tasty offerings being served up in the blogosphere.

Strawberry Mice with White Chocolate Ears by Mr Cornelius


*Spreads from The Tiny Mouse posted by permission of the publisher, text copyright © 2013 Janis Ian, illustrations © 2013 Ingrid and Dieter Schubert, published by Lemniscaat. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2013 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.


37 thoughts on “friday feast: nibbling on janis ian’s the tiny mouse

    1. You must see it! It’s one of the most successful picture books created from song lyrics that I can think of. The Schuberts were new to me — what an amazing pair of illustrators!


    1. Wonderful book, perfect holiday gift! Very happy-making.

      Cornelius made the strawberry mice without eyes so they can’t see you eating them. 😀


  1. Oh my, this is so darling, Jama. I don’t know this author/songwriter/storyteller & now I’m so glad I do. The story sounds exciting and the music and illustrations wonderful. Will check it all out! Thanks!


    1. Please do google Janis. Her oeuvre is amazing. First hit single, “Society’s Child” at age 13 — plus two Grammy Awards and multiple nominations. You have probably heard “At Seventeen” — totally iconic.


  2. Janis’s voice sounds wonderful, and really takes me back (I can’t tell you how many times I played “At Seventeen” as a moody teenager!). This book looks really charming. Thanks for sharing!


    1. She’s still in top form and unstoppable. The chord changes in “At Seventeen” are sublime; as my sister said, some of the most beautiful in folk music.

      Her most recent Grammy (2013) was for Best Spoken Word Album for her autobiography, “Society’s Child.”

      THE TINY MOUSE is indeed charming and enchanting. 🙂


  3. Those illustrations feels so classic, but the colors also look modern. It sounds as if our heroic mouse has an imagination, as well as a sense of adventure.

    Jama, one winner of the Baltimore Sun’s 2013 holiday cookie contest was: No Bake Christmas Mice! Here is a link to the article. You may have to scroll through, but you can’t miss the mice among the snickerdoodles.


    1. Thanks for the cookie link, Laura. Yum! I’ve seen those mice before that are made from cherries and Hershey kisses. So clever. Great combination of flavors :).


  4. Oh Jama! Your posts are always so clever and witty and full of tasty treats! I think the song may be stuck in my head, too. Did you notice the lava lamp by Janis’s chair? Too funny. I love the Tiny Mouse!


    1. Sorry my blog address appeared as my name! I mistyped in the form. I am SO glad its Friday (and so is my brain)! = )


  5. Oh, Jama! I do love you (and Mr. Cornelious.) My husbnd (who is a mouse farmer) will love Mr. C’s creation and this book is going to make a lovely Christmas present for my husband. Just don’t let the secret out.
    You had me laughing and enjoing this post way too much. Thank you, dear friend.


  6. A mouse farmer? Really? Are you serious? Yes, your husband will really get a kick out of this book. I’m glad you didn’t say he was a mouse eater. Then I would worry about you. 😀


  7. Hard to believe this is the same “at seventeen” Janis Ian. I had to go search YouTube for the 1975 hit, just to make sure it was really the same person. Yup, same voice. How delighted I am to meet her lighthearted, snowy-haired self!


    1. “At Seventeen” still resonates for me. Hearing the right song when you need it most makes such a difference, doesn’t it?


  8. Oh my goodness, those strawberry mice are simply the cutest – Mr Cornelius is a genius (whoa, that rhymes!). I love pairing strawberries though with black chocolate and graham crackers. Ingrid and Dieter Schubert also create wordless books, don’t they? I think I’m familiar with their work. Will have to hunt for this debonair-looking mouse. 🙂


  9. I am clearly going to have to go get this book to read for myself, because the awe at the fact that, via the Internet, I can listen to the voice that gave me Seventeen and watch the woman behind that voice sing this story…I’m too choked up to hear the actual words! 🙂


Comments are closed.