Pie, cake, ice cream, popcorn, and bowling only hint at the pleasures to be found in three effervescent little stories.
Motor Mouse is a hardworking rodent, and when it comes to his downtime, he certainly knows how to relax. In “The Friday Cake Day” a catastrophic inaccessibility of delights (read: a closed cake shop) leads to new vistas as the titular hero and his friend Telly (an otter) discover the wide and wonderful world of pie. In “Going for a Look-About,” Motor Mouse cedes driving control to a raccoon cabbie so that he can take his eyes off the road for once. Finally, in “Front Row at the Picture Show,” a long-standing grudge involving a popcorn-hogging brother comes to a head with satisfactory results. Rylant’s grasp of succinct storytelling is on full display. Wry understatement (the pie is deemed by Motor Mouse and Telly to be “QUITE ACCEPTABLE,” while an arrangement whereby two brothers share a single bucket of popcorn “had not worked for years. And it was not working this Saturday, either”) creates memorable characters with minimal syllables. Howard’s art too, honed on the author’s 27 Mr. Putter & Tabby books, deftly balances heart, humor, and the occasional magnificent burst of pathos.
In the words of Motor Mouse himself, “QUITE ACCEPTABLE”—actually, more than quite. (Picture book. 4-7)