We gathered together on the rug at the end of a busy morning. Kesler was holding this book in his hands. Diane asked him if she could read it to everybody on the rug. Kesler thought that was a good idea. This is a nearly wordless book with very little text, the pictures telling the story within. As we read the book together, the children had a lot to say.
Ellie: This is a really sad book.
I was doing a mouse voice does it sound sad?
Chris: Maybe she just asked.
I wonder if the mouse is feeling sad?
Ellie: That’s a big spider monkey. That’s a spider monkey.
Wesley: No its not.
Josie: I’ve heard of a spider monkey.
Livia: Very Scary.
Elliot: It’s very scary.
Jamie: Why is it scary?
Livia: Because it has a blue face and creepy hair and it is scary.
Jamie: It’s not scary.
Wesley: No it’s not!
Chris: Turn the page!
Kangaroo…it’s not scary.
That’s not a kangaroo.
Wesley: Yes it is.
Chris: No no it’s scary.
Josie: It looks scary.
Wesley: But some kangaroos are scary.
They can hop.
Josie: I wish I can be a kangaroo.
Elliot: I want to be a kangaroo!
Livia: I want to be a kangaroo!
Josie: A giraffe!
Livia: It’s a mommy giraffe.
Josie: Or a daddy giraffe.
Wesley: Or a kid giraffe.
Johann: Or a baby.
Ellie: Or a big kid.
Wesley: Or a big brother.
Livia: Or a sister.
Livia: Or an uncle giraffe.
Josie: Or a grandma giraffe.
Wesley: Or a people giraffe.
Josie: Or a grandpa giraffe.
Livia: I was about to say that.
Ellie: What about a little baby monster?
It’s a baby now.
That’s a tree.
Elliot: Is that a worm?
No, it’s a snake.
Ellie: That mouse is that mouse. They’re friends.
Jack: No, it’s an elephant.
No its a mouse.
Jack: Maybe a kangaroo.
Johann: No, it’s a drangaroo.
Jack: That’s a big snake.
Jamie: Why are all the mouse coming?
Jack: It’s a snake.
Wesley: It’s a snake.
Jack: Told you, it was a snake.
Ellie: I don’t love snakes.
Wesley: I love snakes.
Elliot: I love snakes! SSSSSSS! Oh, geez! Oh, yikes! I have a snake.
Livia: Oh, holy cow!
Josie: Oh, that was a good one.
At the beginning of the book is “A NOTE TO PARENTS AND TEACHERS”:
This book has been designed to be a very first step toward real reading. There is beauty here, and fun but there is learning too. Specially planned for the prereading child, this book teaches basic skills of reading readiness. The ingenious placement of the pictures shows the child the correct direction in which to turn the pages. The simple but strong story, even without words, must be “read” from left to right, instilling the idea of linear sequences and forming a groundwork on which to build correct reading habits.
A little help may be needed to start the very young child off, but he will quickly get the idea and will happily improvise his own story, based on Eric Carle’s striking pictures. When Mr. Carle tells the story himself, he begins something like this: “Little Mouse was lonely. He wanted a friend to play with. ‘Do you want to be my friend?’ he asked the horse. But the horse was so busy eating he did not seem to hear Little Mouse at all. ‘Never mind,’ said Little Mouse to himself. ‘I see a long green tail over there. Perhaps it belongs to someone who will be my friend…’ [In Studio Blue we often simply remain on the page, waiting quietly to see if a child will offer their own idea about what is happening. In this case, Diane began by simply repeating ‘Do you want to be my friend?’ each time she turned the page, and soon the conversation began to flow.]
Though told almost entirely without words, this book has a definite plot and a subplot, a hero and an antagonist. The latter is in plain view throughout but unsuspected of villainy until the exciting climax, as in all well-constructed suspense stories, and the ending is happy and satisfying. Small children will delight in the surprise and adventure brought by each turn of the page as Little Mouse looks for–and finally finds–a friend. At the same time, they will be acquiring important pre-reading skills.
Lincoln Nursery School is a non-sectarian, non-profit, cooperative nursery school, serving 60 children ages 2.9 to 6 years old. Our community is composed of families from many surrounding towns.
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