As a librarian, you know a book has got that special something if it kind of causes you pain to part with it, even though you know that it is fulfilling its booky destiny to go out into the world and be read and loved and shared.
It was hard for me to hand love, Mouserella over for the first time to one of my colleagues who was looking for picture books with letter writing connections. I confess I almost (almost I said), kept love, Mouserella hidden away in the box of new books in the back room, in a state of pristine perfection. But I didn’t. I set it free. I knew that I was sending the book to a first audience of pretty fabulous Grade 3s, and that was The Right Thing to Do. I passed it over to the teacher and told her that when she was done, she needed to bring it right back to me and “put it into my hands.” Obviously she knew I wasn’t kidding, because that is exactly what she did (at the same time she shared some rave reviews from her students). I am working my way towards lending it out again. It will happen. Pinky swear.
You shouldn’t judge me until you’ve seen the sheer cuteness of this little book by David Ezra Stein. I’ll bet that if you do get your hands on it, you won’t want to be letting it go any time soon either.
The book is written as one long letter from Mouserella to her Grandmouse, who has recently gone back home again (to Fluffington!!! A-dorable!) after visiting Mouserella in the city. Mouserella writes to her Grandmouse about all of the things she has been doing since they were together: visiting a mean cat in the zoo, teaching her pet ladybug to fetch, practicing her posture by balancing a book on her tail, and visiting the museum. It’s the details about ordinary kid life in a family that really make this small book endearing, like the game of x’s and o’s played by Mouserella and her dad on the back of the letter, and Mouserella’s story about having to eat all of the popsicles in the freezer during a blackout and making shadow puppets with a flashlight.
Many of the illustrations are created to look like photographs taken by Mouserella, and there are lots of sweet crayon doodles and stickers added on the edges of the letter. On one page, Mouserella has ‘attached’ a squishy ketchup packet because she thinks her Grandmouse probably has never seen one. Speaking of the design aspect of the book, it opens vertically, like a letter (basically swing the image you see up top around by 90 degrees). I like that attention to detail, plus it gets you in the spirit of things.
Love, Mouserella is a darling book that could open up discussion and teaching about city and country life, family relationships, making connections through letter writing, and what having fun can look like if we turn off our televisions / video games / tablets / computers. For primary teachers, you definitely want to include it as a fun launch to your letter writing unit, as it could be helpful in teaching kids about including details to bring experiences to life, editing, and letter format. The only trouble you might have is getting your librarian to lend it to you.
Before you go, you must check out 7 Imp’s wonderful interview with David Ezra Stein.
love, Mouserella is published by Nancy Paulsen Books.