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Mr. McMouse Hardcover – September 8, 1992

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Life as a happy handsome city mouse ends abruptly for Timothy when he looks into the mirror one morning and sees "a strange creature dressed in black staring at him." His brown ears and furry gray body have been replaced by a human-like form sporting a man's hat and coat; only a long tail links him to his original incarnation. Fleeing the city in panic, Timothy seeks refuge in a typically quixotic, Lionni-esque countryside adorned with marbleized trees and paisley boulders. A band of field mice, reassured by the hero's tail, dub him Mr. McMouse and offer membership in their group--if he can pass a battery of tests and earn a field mouse license. The artist's trademark cut paper collages colorfully and succinctly illustrate Timothy's quest, though unfortunately the narrative here is a minor one. This slight tale's opening, in particular, may confuse little ones--why does Timothy change, and exactly who or what does he become? Still, Lionni ( Swimmy ; A Busy Year ) provides Timothy with a hero's ending and weaves a gentle message of self-awareness into this offbeat tale. Ages 2-6.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 4-- City mouse Timothy flees to the country after he awakens one morning to discover he has turned into a miniature man/mouse. At first, the field mice distrust him, but then he is befriended by Spinny, one of their company. She encourages Timothy in his efforts to earn a field mouse license so he can remain with them. He fails one test after another, until he and Spinny exhibit courage and cleverness in outwitting a cat. Lionni's familiar illustrations accompany this somewhat predictable story, although the moral of offering friendship to those who look different can hardly be faulted. This will be of most use in collections where Lionni is a proven favorite, rather than where it must attract new readers on its own merits. --Kathy Piehl, Mankato State University, MN
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 390L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 1 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (September 8, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679838902
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679838906
  • Product Dimensions: 11.4 x 9.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,899,585 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

author spotlight
"From time to time, from the endless flow of our mental imagery, there emerges unexpectedly something that, vague though it may be, seems to carry the promise of a form, a meaning, and, more important, an irresistible poetic charge."--Leo Lionni

Leo Lionni wrote and illustrated more than 40 highly acclaimed children's books. He received the 1984 American Institute of Graphic Arts Gold Medal and was a four-time Caldecott Honor Winner--for Inch by Inch, Frederick, Swimmy, and Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse. Leo Lionni died in October of 1999 at his home in Tuscany, Italy, at the age of 89.


"Of all the questions I have been asked as an author of children's books, the most frequent one, without doubt, has been 'How do you get your ideas?' Most people seem to think that getting an idea is both mysterious and simple. Mysterious, because inspiration must come from a particular state of grace with which only the most gifted souls are blessed. Simple, because ideas are expected to drop into one's mind in words and pictures, ready to be transcribed and copied in the form of a book, complete with endpapers and cover. The word get expresses these expectations well. Yet nothing could be further from the truth.

"It is true that, from time to time, from the endless flow of our mental imagery, there emerges unexpectedly something that, vague though it may be, seems to carry the promise of a form, a meaning, and, more important, an irresistible poetic charge. The sense of instant recognition with which we pull this image into the full light of our consciousness is the initial impulse of all creative acts. But, though it is important, it produces no more than the germ of an idea. Each book, at the birth of its creative history, has such a moment. Some are fortunate enough to have, from the outset, a strongly identified hero, one with an inescapable destiny. Others are blessed with a promising beginning, or perhaps with the vision of an ending (which means working backwards to a surprise opening). Others stem from a clearly articulated conflict situation. Sometimes, I must admit, the motivations of a book may be found in a sudden, unreasonable urge to draw a certain kind of crocodile. And it may even happen that in the dark of our minds there appears, out of nowhere, a constellation of words that has the bright, arrogant solidity of a title. Only last night I was jolted out of a near-slumber by the words the mouse that didn't exist. I am sure that, temporarily tucked away in my memory, they will eventually become the title of a story for which as yet I have no idea.

"To shape and sharpen the logic of a story, to tighten the flow of events, ultimately to define the idea in its totality, is much like a game of chess. In the light of overall strategy, each move is the result of doubts, proposals, and rejections, which inevitably bring to mind the successes or failures of previous experiences.

"Inspirational raptures may happen, but most books are shaped through hard, disciplined work. Creative work, to be sure, because its ingredients come from the sphere of the imaginary. But the manipulation of these ingredients requires much more than mere inclination or talent. It is an intricate process in which the idea slowly takes form, by trial and error, through detours and side roads, which, were it not for the guidance of professional rigor, would lead the author into an inextricable labyrinth of alternatives.

"And so, to the question 'How do you get your ideas?' I am tempted to answer, unromantic though it may sound, 'Hard work.' "

Leo Lionni has gained international renown for his paintings, graphic designs, illustrations, and sculpture, as well as for his books for children. He was born in Holland in 1910 of Dutch parents, and although his education did not include formal art courses (in fact, he has a doctorate in economics from the University of Genoa), he spent much of his free time as a child in Amsterdam's museums, teaching himself to draw.

Lionni's business training gradually receded into the background as his interest in art and design grew. Having settled in Milan soon after his marriage in 1931, he started off by writing about European architecture for a local magazine. It was there that he met the contacts who were to give him a start as a professional graphic designer. When he moved to America in 1939, Lionni was hired by a Philadelphia advertising agency as art director. Later he became design director for the Olivetti Corporation of America, and then art director for Fortune magazine. At the same time, his reputation as an artist flourished as he began to exhibit his paintings and drawings in galleries from New York to Japan.

Lionni launched his career as an author/illustrator of books for children in 1959. Originally developed from a story he had improvised for his grandchildren during a dull train ride, Little Blue and LittleYellow was the first of what is now a long list of children's picture books, including four Caldecott Honor Books.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I hadn't met a book by Leo Lionni I didn't like until now. A country mouse turns into a "strange creature dressed in black" and the reader is left to wonder why. I have a college degree and I consider myself a pretty intelligent person, but I could not figure out why the mouse changed and what the change had to do with the rest of the story. This was a very disconnected story, and I just didn't get it. Maybe I'm not as bright as I thought. Fortunately, I didn't buy it. Check it out first, and if you figure it out, please write about it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I find "Mr McMouse" a fantastic book. And I tell you why. The story is about Timothy, a city mouse, that one day feels lost in the city where he has lived so far...He is not able to recognize himself anymore nor to explain to himself what he is doing there and why.
That's why he decides to walk away from the city and to go to the countryside: to find out his real own identity...It won't be so easy for him, he will have to overcome some difficulty, but in the end, after so many efforts and the capability of being just himself, he will be able to find his place in the everybody wishes and deserves.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By P. Smith on December 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Well.... it's Lionni and the pictures are certainly beautiful and it's a moral tale with a happy ending but I guess I just don't get the beginning. So Timothy was a vain city mouse who woke up one day and suddenly didn't look like himself anymore. So he ran and ran until he came to the country where he encountered field mice who had no problem telling he was a mouse. Ok. Just seems like I'm missing something there.
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