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Little Mouse's Sweet Treat Paperback – Large Print, August 19, 2016
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About the Author
Shana A. Hollowell lives in Suffolk, Virginia, with her husband, two boys, four cats, 31 koi fish and hundreds of bonsai trees. If you enjoyed this story, sign up to be notified of her new book releases at www.shanahollowell.com and connect with her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/authorshanahollowell
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Little Mouse wants a "sweet treat," so he pays a visit to each animal friend asking if they have a sweet treat to share. Each animal has their favorite treat..as it pertains to their species... but Little Mouse just can't seem to find a treat that appeals to him. Finally, "tired and beat" Little Mouse returns home without having found a sweet snack to eat. Little Mouse's mommy calls him into the kitchen where his favorite treat is waiting for him.
This 23 page text is just the right length for young children's attention span. Children will wonder if Little Mouse will find a snack and want to guess at possible endings. The light, rhythmic text will keep young listeners engaged in the story in addition to the bright, full color illustrations. I can envision children requesting Little Mouse's Sweet Treat over and over until the repeating lines are memorized. Parents could even use the familiar lines as a way to get kids to eat fruits and vegetables--- "Do you have something black and hairy? Yes, I do, some yummy blackberries." "Do you have something long and green? Yes, I do, it's a green bean."
Little Mouse's Sweet Treat is sure to become a favorite read aloud of children, parents and teachers.
Reading stories is one of the many tools I use to teach my children values. I believe is discussing the moral lessons and I am happy to read stories to my kids which present good examples of morals. The story, Little Mouse's Sweet Treat by Shana Hollowell and illustrated by Jennifer Finch, presents examples of sharing. Little Mouse wants a sweet treat and so visits friends asking for a treat. All are willing to share, but Little Mouse doesn’t like what they offer. Eventually, Little Mouse returns home and receives a sweet treat from Mommy that he does like. With each visit, a parent has the opportunity to ask their child, “will the character share?” When the friend does share, a parent can ask follow-up questions like “Why?” or “How does the character feel?”
I have baked cupcakes and cookies with my 3-year-old daughter. She is really excited to help and probably more excited to have the sweet treat. The wonderful thing about baking is that she must wait for the baking to be done before she can eat. It’s a lesson in patience as well as helping. Little Mouse exhausts himself searching for a sweet treat and doesn’t get one until he returns home. Parents can use this example as a lesson in patience. Also, it shows that Mommy understands best of all what her child likes. This offers a chance to teach a child that parents want to do what is best for a child.
The story is very simply written in a sing-song rhyming style. Young ears will appreciate the rhymes and the consistency of the story, but the real value for parents is the opportunity to teach values such as sharing, patience, and a parent’s love.
First, the structure is a good, proven pattern that is known to engage children. Repetition and rhyme has a way of rewarding children as they go from page to page. This book follows this formula nicely without feeling forced or out of place.
As far as message it looks like the main takeaway is about how what is delicious or desirable to others may not be right for you. The mouse spends the hours talking to animals and asking if they have anything sweet to eat. Each animal is different and offers something that is tasty to them but not necessarily to a mouse. Each animal apologetically sends the mouse to the next animal, repeating until the mouse gives up and goes home. In her own house her mom makes her cookies, which she loves. Only a mother really knows what a child wants, after all.
One thing I might change would be the food that the mouse has in the end. Part of the interest for kids is seeing what animals eat in their habitat. Honey, seeds & milk are all things that do in fact appeal to animals we’re familiar with. By the end though we sort of “jump the line” and give the mouse a plate of cookies on a plate. That’s helpful in relating closer to the child we’re reading to but it sort of disassembles the rule structure we’ve set aside for the story. Is Mouse less an animal than the others? Are we just forgetting the whole animal thing as soon as we enter the kitchen because we want a clean resolution to the story? Why is a piece of pie more dry and unappealing than a plate of cookies? Kids are funny in that they notice inconsistencies like that. They bring it up and want explanations, making the followup discussion less what the author intended and more about the choices the author made.
Another small criticism might be the choice of font. It’s a cute book and between the characters and the illustrations, so a playful font like this might have just been too much. I think something more legible for young people might have been better. Capital & lowercase letters exist in a confusing scalar plane that makes it hard for kids to distinguish. My daughter had a hard time with it.
The illustrations are perfect for the story. Loose, confident acrylic paintings make use of the two page spread whenever possible. Big pluses are making use of blank, white spaces to allow kids to find things. Usually when children’s books are painted rather than drawn they tend to get too textural and coated to appeal to children and become more paintings for adults. Not so here. Finch made color and tone choices that allow kids to get a fix on the language she’s created. Lots of cool fills like lime green, light blue, sky blue and forrest green occupy the broadest shapes and backgrounds. A thin brush with a deep brown is used to carefully trace the edges of important objects like the animals and foreground objects like bowls and butterflies. She chose to leave distant objects less defined, like a dry brush stroke for tree trunks, denoting them as further or less important. I think that’s effective and helps us focus on main events.
This book is recommended. In the indie publishing world it clearly stands out as professional and worthy.