THE STORY OF JUMPING MOUSE by John Steptoe

THE STORY OF JUMPING MOUSE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

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 1st, 1984
ISBN: 068808740X
Page count: 44pp
Publisher: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1984




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