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Monday, July 13, 2015

by mouse & frog, written and illustrated by Deborah Freedman. Viking, Penguin. 2015. $18.99 ages 3 and up

""Oh," said Frog to Mouse.
"I just wanted to help."
Then Frog explained to
everyone else,
"This story is Mouses's."

"So," Frog said,
"Mouse set the table for tea.
Then what happened?"

Mouse's early morning story just doesn't have enough pizzazz! Mouse would be quite content; she likes simple and quiet. Frog, on the other hand, likes nothing more than action and enthusiasm. When he makes his presence known, and his wish to have a story that is full of elements that appeal to him, he just takes over.

"some had two feet and some had four and some had a comb and a brush and a bowl full of chicken soup, with noodles, not rice, and they cheered we are here! And they played bump-bump-tumble, and hey diddle diddle all-fall-down, kuplink, kuplank, do you like my hat? Yes, monkeys, you, I do! I do! What would you do if your mother asked ... are you my mother?"

Savvy readers and astute listeners will make connections to some of their favorite stories as Frog forges ahead with his idea. He just keeps going - until Mouse puts an end to it! She reasons that the story is a mess. Frog is bewildered until Mouse explains that the story was hers. Frog is distraught at his inability to help. He erases each of his characters, now realizing it is not his story to be told. Mouse, realizing she has hurt Frog's feelings, surrenders herself to creating a story that suits both. It is the very best kind of solution between friends. Their need to write their own stories hasn't changed; their need to compromise creates a story they can be proud to have written together.

'The illustrations are made with pencil, pastel, watercolor, and gouache, and assembled in Photoshop', and are to be as admired as is every bit of work previously done by Ms. Freedman. Her characters stand out from the rest of the images, keeping attention fully on them and the parts they play in this fine story about creativity, and collaboration.  They are funny and charming, with an astute ability to learn the best way to be friends.

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