|The Mouse and the Lion (A Parents' Magazine Press "Reading Readiness" Book)|
by Eve Titus, illustrated by Leonard Weisgard.
Parents' Magazine Press, 1962.
Today, as I was updating our "Books, Authors & Artists We Love" page, it occurred to me that my little blog is sorely lacking in Leonard Weisgard love. Lucky for me, this darling book has been patiently waiting its turn to be showcased.
Written by Eve Titus of Anatole and Basil of Baker Street fame, The Mouse and the Lion is not a retelling of the famous fable by Aesop. Instead, it is the tale of a little mouse and a mighty lion, who set off separately to find a city, in order to see people.
A kind fairy sees the mouse, and knows where he is going and why. She is certain the mouse will be struck with fear when he sees how big people are, so she tearfully waves her wand and casts a spell: in the eyes of human beings, the mouse will appear as large as a lion. Next she spies the lion, and can see he is off to the city, too. This time, she fears for the people of the city and weeps. Another spell is cast: in the eyes of human beings, the lion will appear as small as a mouse.
Then her eyes twinkled. "There'll be many a mixup today!"
And away the fairy flew - right out of this book!
The mouse finds himself in front of a small country school, where he frightens two little boys. "Mouse Monster!" they cry. The mouse is confused. The boys were so big! How could they be afraid of little him?
The mouse scurries away. The teacher fails to see the "giant" mouse, and the boys must write, "A mouse is not a monster," on the blackboard five hundred times.
When the children go outside for recess...
they spy the lion! The lion is confused. The children, especially the little girls, think he is the cutest thing they have ever seen! They argue about who should take him home. One girl tries to grab him, but he runs away.
Eventually, the mouse finds himself in the Museum of Natural History. He is mistaken for part of an exhibit, until he sneezes. The people run from the exhibit, screaming about the "mouse monster."
Then the lion enters the now-empty museum. He finds the big cat exhibit, and the stuffed tiger terrifies him. The museum guard enters, and before the lion can hide, the guard approaches him. He wants to put the "tiny" lion in a cage for the lion specialist. The lion manages to get away.
Finally, the lion and the mouse bump into each other. The lion apologizes, in case he hurt the little mouse. Lions are good to mice, ever since the mouse in the fable saved the life of one of their own. They tell each other a bit about their crazy day, then the lion gives the mouse a lift home.
The mouse was met by friends who clapped and cheered to see him sliding down the lion's tail!
He lived happily thereafter, and of one thing you may be sure - never again did he visit the world of people.
The lion runs home to the forest, where the other creatures welcome him in a way fitting for the King of Beasts.
He lived happily thereafter, and of another thing you may be sure - never again did he visit the world of people.
The lion and the mouse did leave a lot for the people of the city to remember and talk about for years to come!
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