Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Children's Book Review: 'Cheer Up, Mouse!' by Jed Henry

Cheer Up, Mouse! by Jed Henry
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2012

Mouse is having a bad day. His animal friends can tell by the way he hangs his head and wanders off on his own. One by one, each animal uses his own unique skills to try and cheer up their friend: Crow lifts him in the air; Frog pulls him into the water; Rabbit bounces him around; Mole takes him underground; Bluebirds carry him up into a tree; Badger gives him some food; and Hedgehog rolls him down the hill. But still, Mouse is standing alone and looking sad... until Chipmunk goes (literally) out on a limb to offer Mouse a hug. The other animals gather round in curiosity, and when they see Chipmunk and Mouse smile at each other, they all join in a group hug.

The language is sparse and playful and the story is primarily told through Jed Henry's wonderful illustrations. The animals, though portrayed realistically, have remarkably expressive faces that convey their concern for their friend who is feeling down and their inventive determination to cheer him up.

The first grade students that I read this story to were riveted by it, erupting into cheers of “Awesome!” and “Great!” when I came to the end. They commented on the color of the illustrations, the animals' movements, and the fact that there were no words on the pages in which Chipmunk gives Mouse a hug. (Because, of course, no words were needed.)

Jed Henry has always had an affinity for animals. As a child, he preferred zoos to museums, and Shark Week was more fun than Christmas. Now that he's mostly grown up, Jed still loves animals. His favorite critters are his two little girls, who are about as wild as they come. Jed lives by the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Provo, Utah.

Renée Vaillancourt McGrath has worked at Montana Public Radio as a program host since 2002. Her background is in librarianship and she currently works as a freelance editor, blogger, and website developer. Check out more of her book reviews at reneesreads.com.

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