by & illustrated by
Age Range: 6 - 9
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Shepard (Master Man, 2001, etc.) retells an old Finnish tale about a very unusual way of choosing a very unusual bride. Two brothers are old enough to marry and their father reminds them that in family custom, they each must cut down a tree and follow where it points. Now, the older brother knows how to fell a tree so it falls where he wants, and he sets it toward his sweetheart’s farm. But the younger brother, Mikko, has no sweetheart and his tree points to the forest. Deep in the woods he finds a cottage and inside a mouse, who stands on her hind legs and tells him she’d be glad to be his sweetheart, and then sings him a little song. The next day, the father sends his sons to bring back cloth woven by their sweethearts—in Shepard’s version there is no demand for exceptional quality. Mikko’s mouse lets him nap, while an army of her fellow mice weave fine linen that fits into a nutshell. Mikko’s father, dazzled by the cloth, sets the next day for the weddings. When Mikko’s bride drives up in her tiny nutshell drawn by rats, Mikko’s brother, seeing only rodents, kicks them all into the stream. But when Mikko looks up, a beautiful princess in a mouse-colored gown of pearly velvet appears, her enchantment broken. The language is bright and cheery throughout, with the kind of repetition children, and storytellers, love and Shepard offers a reader’s theatre script on his Web site. Gore’s (The Secret of the Great Houdini, p. 876, etc.) paintings have the velvety texture of their pastel and acrylic medium in deep blues and greens; Finnish-inspired borders decorate textiles and some of the page edges. Prettily told, with sweet lessons about love and trust, no matter how odd the circumstances. (music notation, source notes) (Picture book/fairy tale. 6-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-689-82912-4
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2002


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