Whatever the authenticity of Steptoe's Plains Indian legend of a seeking, selfless mouse who turns into an eagle, his powerful, over-scale picturization is apt to evoke a response—at least the first time around. After that, the impact wears off, and the bathos intervenes. But there is still the pull of being down on the mouse's level, and being drawn into his world by the magic-realism of the gray-toned, double-page bleeds. Alongside, the text is prolix, the story-elements commonplace. A young mouse, hearing tell "of the far-off land," sets forth. Stopped by a river, he meets a frog—Magic Frog, she tells him—who turns him into Jumping Mouse. Also: "You will encounter hardships. . . but don't despair. You will reach the far-off land if you keep hope alive within you." He lingers for a time with a fat old mouse, who falls prey to a snake in his lassitude. Going on, he comes across a dying, blind bison—to whom he gives his sight. He comes across a helpless, unsniffing wolf—to whom he gives his sense of smell. At last, having reached the far-off land, he weeps (that piteous, blind visage filling the page): "I feel the earth beneath my paws. I hear the wind rustling leaves on the trees. . . but I'll never be as I was. How will I ever manage?" Magic Frog appears, praises him, tells him to "Jump high"—and, by gosh (but not without further words), we see him outlined against the bright sky. . . and, overleaf, the bright-eyed, fierce-beaked head of an eagle. Think of it perhaps as a demonstration of art's transforming power, the weaknesses of the tale (and the telling) not-withstanding.

Pub Date: March 1, 1984

ISBN: 068808740X

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1984

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves


A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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