Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THRICE TOLD TALES by Catherine Lewis Kirkus Star


Three Mice Full of Writing Advice

by Catherine Lewis, illustrated by Joost Swarte

Age Range: 12 - 18

Pub Date: Aug. 27th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4169-5784-3
Publisher: Atheneum

From allegory to verisimilitude, the three blind mice demonstrate a wealth of literary terms.

Named Pee Wee, Oscar and Mary, the famous mice start with their basic “Story” and ring the changes on it using a variety of literary tools. “Vocabulary and Syntax” renders the first line of the familiar nursery rhyme four different ways: “Trinity of myopic vermin / Eyeless murine trio / Triumvirate of sightless rodents / Three blind mice.” Under “Style,” readers encounter “Hemingway Mouse”: “Three mice. Woman with knife. No tails.” “Oxymoron” is exemplified by “It was a dull knife that caused their soundless wails.” Lewis covers every imaginable possibility, including “F--k,” a section on the use of expletives, and “Sex in the Story.” Clever line drawings by Swarte enliven every page, and Lewis’ own comments add graceful explanation. Under “Repetition,” for example, she writes, “The pleasure of repetition from the acoustic to the unconscious is ubiquitous.” Treatment of each topic is brief, though artful, but an exhaustive glossary—intelligent, witty, thoughtfully referential and written in a voice as distinctive as William Strunk's—provides further elucidation and heft (it also doubles as an index).

A sparkling celebration of the craft of writing that easily rises to the level of belles lettres itself. (Nonfiction. 12 & up)