A little mouse’s foreign-language skills save his family from a cat in this mother-daughter debut.
Reworking a Cuban folk tale (available in another version by Antonio Sacre and Alfredo Aguirre as The Barking Mouse, 2003), the authors introduce opera-loving mouse Mrs. Canta and her large family. Mrs. Canta speaks Cricket, Spider and Moth, as well as several human languages, so when the youngest, Chico Canta, echoes her “Dulces sueños, sweet dreams,” she exclaims “Bilingual” in approval. But Chico speaks more than just two languages, as he proves when a family production of Three Little Pigs is nearly spoiled by Little Gato-Gato and he leads the audience in a loud chorus of “Bow-wow! Bow-wow! Bow-wow!” that averts the threat. Everyone cheers: “Bilingual!” (Mora explains in an afterword that the term was chosen to “move the story along” and invites adult readers to introduce a more accurate one when appropriate). Seeing the head of the Big Bad Wolf costume hanging from a nail like a trophy in one scene may give viewers a brief turn, but in general, Carling’s illustrations capture the well-told story’s sweetly spirited tone, with views of tiny mice in colorful costume scampering about and away from a much larger but obviously young ginger kitten.
Food for thought for monolingual mouselings—not to mention their parents and teachers. (afterword) (Picture book/folk tale. 5-8)