A handy group of creatures comes together to build a house for the neighborhood mouse.
Step by step, each contributing critter helps with the construction of a new house, from the 10 toucans drawing up the plans to the five snails who are “driving nails.” The countdown starts with those 10 toucans and works its way down to one, enumerating animals and steps along the way. All of the pages include simple rhyming phrases that read tightly and naturally. The progression of the story from plans to moving in is logical and believable, a thoughtful touch. It’s really MacNeill’s skillful hand with the detailed illustrations that sets this one apart. The pages incorporate graph paper, the front and back covers have ruled edging, and the large numbers of the countdown are filled with tiny patterns that echo the larger illustrations. Perhaps the most delightful of these details is that the final two pages point out to readers that a heart is hidden on each page, encouraging a seek-and-find reread. The only reason to raise an eyebrow is to the scale of a couple illustrations: If it’s truly a mouse house that the animals are building, then aren’t the bear-sized stairs (built by six bears) rather inconvenient? The charming mixed-media illustrations provide so much visual interest readers probably won’t mind, and the age-appropriate rhyming text is a sweet accompaniment.
The beautiful, inviting illustrations ensure readers will keep coming back, finding new details to delight in upon each revisit. (Board book. 6 mos.-3)