Picture-book stories that feature the library are bound to have an instant audience, but unfortunately, in this case, the tale doesn’t stack up.
A mouse is enjoying some peace and quiet until a fox chases her into the library. Scheherazade-like, Mouse distracts the fox from eating her by demonstrating all of the resources of the library. (Unfortunately for the local poultry, the first book she reads to him is about a fox chasing chickens.) Returning the next night, Fox asks Mouse to read a story to him since he can’t read; Mouse is busy learning to be a magician, so she suggests he look for the book on a CD. He returns again with a chicken clenched in his jaws. She has told him that chicken bones are bad for him, and he has come to the library to confirm this; Mouse suggests an encyclopedia. When the now–library-crazy Fox takes out a stack of books all at one time, Mouse cautions him that he can only take 10. From the appealing cover to the exaggerated ending, it’s the delightful, colored-pencil illustrations that will attract readers. The storyline is well-intentioned, using the animal characters as an obvious contrivance to highlight the things libraries offer. However, both the device and the writing are belabored and do not serve the theme well. Moreover, the riff on the “fox in the henhouse” lays a narrative egg.
Better picture-book invitations and initiations to the library are available, so skip this one. (Picture book. 5-8)