The late Caldecott Honor artist Leo Lionni is well loved for his sweet, colorful paintings and thoughtful stories that always illuminate a sliver of human nature: the story of Frederick, the field mouse whose storytelling helps his family through winter; the little fish Swimmy who outsmarts a bully; the story of a minnow and a tadpole who form an unlikely alliance. The Greentail Mouse, originally published in 1973 and out of print for many years, is one of Lionni’s quirkier fables about a city mouse who visits a community of country mice and regales them with colorful tales of Mardi Gras, the one festive day in the city that is not "sad and dangerous." The mice become very excited, and decide to put on their own Fat Tuesday party, collecting natural materials like straw and lichen to create masks of ferocious animals with "glittering teeth and fierce eyes." Most wear wigs and hats, and the Greentail Mouse of the title is so named because she paints her tail green. As the celebration gains momentum, the mice forget themselves, and really begin to believe they are ferocious animals: "Everyone was afraid of everyone else, and as the days went by, the once peaceful community became a place full of hate and suspicion." Fortunately, a maskless mouse reminds them that they are in fact harmless, peaceful mice and restores order and happiness to the group. Rich, colorful, two-page spreads of Frederick-style mice distinguish Lionni’s vivid walk on the wild side. (Ages 4 to 8) --Karin Snelson
Originally published in 1973, this is an offbeat fable about the city mouse who visits his peaceful country cousins and tells them about Mardi Gras in the city. What fun it would be to make masks of fearsome animals and have our own Mardi Gras, think the country mice. And at first it is fun wearing their masks with sharp teeth and tusks and scaring each other, but after awhile they begin believing that they really are ferocious animals. All the mice are frightened and suspicious of each other until one mouse finds a way to make them happy to be real mice again. Leo Lionni’s winsome mice, all cousins to his beloved Frederick, cavort across big double-page spreads of oil paintings and tell a story about what is real and what is not that is just right for preschoolers.
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