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Monday, October 26, 2015

Max the Brave, written and illustrated by Ed Vere. Puffin, Penguin. 2014. $21.00 ages 4 and up

"Max the Brave just needs
to find out what a mouse
looks like ...

and then he will chase it.

Maybe Mouse is in there.
Max bravely explores the
can. "Mouse? Are you in?"
Hmmm, Mouse isn't here."

Can it be true that cats have nine lives? Max might, in fact, need a few of those as he sets out to find himself a mouse to chase. You should know that Max is very young (is that evident when you look at the cover?) and to tell the truth, he has no idea what a mouse even looks like. That doesn't stop our intrepid hero. He is willing to take whatever risks arise to catch that mouse, providing he meets one!

Off he goes! He leaves no hiding place unturned. When he sees a fly he asks the pertinent question: "Are you Mouse?" Replying in the negative, the fly lets him know that Mouse is close by. He just saw him scurry past. He asks a fish, some birds, even an elephant, and finally a rabbit. Each of their responses is similar.

When, with great good luck, he finally meets up with Mouse, he doesn't know it. When asked that same pertinent question, Mouse has a quick response:

"'Who, me? No, certainly not,
I'm Monster!'
squeaks Mouse. 'But I did just see
Mouse asleep over there ... "

A surprise ending will have toddlers chuckling and immediately asking for a reread! It's so much fun, you won't mind at all.

Ed Vere keeps the story simple, and the illustrations match the tale's tenor. He backgrounds his pages with variety in color, and keeps Max and those he meets the focus of our attention throughout the story. The expression-filled eyes pop, and the carefully constructed pages are the perfect entertainment for those who will soon be reading it on their own. I can't wait to see the upcoming Max at Night.


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