The bear looked at the other animals in their crowns. Naturally he wanted one too and began to search through the grass. But hard as he looked, he couldn’t find one.
The other animals began to parade in a circle. Round and round they went. Even the mouse joined in.
“Hail to me!” cried the tortoise.
“Long live me!” sang the fox.
“I was first!” squeaked the mouse.
The bear lowered his head. It wasn’t any fun being the only one who wasn’t a king or queen.
He lumbered away.
In his eager search for food, a mouse notices a tiny crown shining in the grass. Popping it on his head, the mouse finds other animals immediately accept him as king, each taking trouble to provide him food and entertainment. When a snake also finds a crown and is accepted as queen, the mouse is not too happy. Suddenly, everyone except bear finds a crown, each declaring itself king or queen. But bear sits alone, forlornly deploring his luck. Mouse recognizing bear’s sadness removes his own crown and caringly makes bear his own crown of dandelions. As they sit together just being friends, bear lifts the mouse to his shoulder so mouse has a better view of the setting sun.
A prolific award-winning author and a first-time picture book illustrator have collaborated to produce an understated, poignant story with a positive message about friendship, imagination and just a little envy. Using large clear text, the story progresses simply and directly, providing moments of humor and gentle reflection. The small eager mouse and the large sad bear make an unusual but kind and understanding partnership.
The grey-brown sepia tones of the graphite illustrations add to the quiet feeling of the book. In addition to the charming animal representations, close inspection reveals subtle, whimsical details that add further dimensions to the story. The attractive layout features large pictures facing the text, with small playful vignettes inserted on the text page.
In addition to being a quiet browsing book or a one-on-one reading experience, King Mouse would make a lovely read-aloud for storytelling.
A retired children’s librarian, Aileen Wortley lives in Toronto, Ontario.