Is the boasting mouse asking for trouble?
Jake, “the fastest mouse in the world,” taunts Old Tom Cat, who gives chase, dreaming of a sweet young mouse to eat. It’s no contest. Jake leaps into the garden, where weary Old Tom gets tangled in knots. Next, Jake strolls by a hungry red fox who smiles in greeting and declares his intention to eat him up. Jake taunts the fox—“Can’t catch me!”—who scampers and scurries but never comes close to catching him. This little race has led Jake to the woods, where he’s coveted by a sly wolf who stays low to the ground but can’t catch Jake either, and neither can the bear who tries after. The elated Jake runs and runs, until he’s right back where he started. Old Tom opens one sleepy eye to ask Jake where he’s been, asking him to come closer so he can hear. When Jake does, Old Tom swallows him with one bite. Delicious! Ciraolo’s fluid pencil-and-watercolor illustrations give readers a fluffy, big-eyed Old Tom, and the other predators are equally expressive; Jake is appropriately tiny, but his big, boasting mouth gapes wide with hubris. Knapman peppers his text with juicy action verbs in a text that begs to be read aloud.
A valuable lesson on egotism, with more than one echo of “The Gingerbread Boy.” (Picture book. 3-6)