Title: If you Give a Mouse a Cookie
Author: Laura Joffe Numeroff
Illustrator: Felicia Bond
Publisher: HarperCollins; 1 edition (April 27, 2010)
Audience: ages 4 -8 years
Summary: This contemporary classic in children’s literature is known for its playful, circular pattern. A boy gives a cookie to a mouse. The mouse asks for a glass of milk. He then requests a straw (to drink the milk), a mirror (to avoid a milk mustache), nail scissors (to trim his hair), and a broom (to sweep up). Next he wants to take a nap, to have a story read to him, to draw a picture, and to hang the drawing on the refrigerator. Looking at the refrigerator makes him thirsty, so the mouse asks for a glass of milk. The circle is complete when he wants a cookie to go with it.
Literary elements at work in the story Using the elements of “cause and effect,” Numeroff shows us the comical side of the life of a small boy who is run ragged trying to make his guest feel comfortable and happy. Praised for her “meticulous attention to detail,” Felicia Bond captures the increasing energy of the boy through her use of vibrant colors and clean lines drawn with color pencils. Together they draw the reader into the domino effect that takes over when someone is willing to go to any length to help a friend. This simple book has inspired a number of spin-off books by the same author-illustrator team and has received numerous awards and recognitions for its contribution to the field of children’s literature.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? A little boy befriends a male mouse in such a way that encourages young readers to come away smiling at the antics that tumble like dominoes through the pages of this delightful book. What happens when one friend works to provide for another transcends social and economic boundaries.
Theological Conversation Partners: Somewhat like the boy in the story, the Good Samaritan was willing to “go the extra mile” to help the man he found wounded on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. In response to the question “who is my neighbor?” Jesus responded with a parable of friendship that went far beyond the expectations of society. The Samaritan could have passed by the man in need, as the other two men did, but he chose to stop and offer aid that began on the roadside and continued into a nearby town. The Samaritan did more than was expected when he bandaged the man’s wounds, poured oil and wine on them, and then put him on his own animal and brought him to an inn to take care of him. The Samaritan did more than was expected when he paid the innkeeper to continue caring for the wounded man and promised to return and repay whatever had been spent. Was the aid of the Samaritan the same as the boy in the book? Surely not! For the generosity and hospitality of the Samaritan went far beyond just being a kind host. The lesson being made by Jesus was that our neighbors are not just the ones we invite into our homes for cookies and milk. They are also the ones who look different from us, the ones who are our enemy, the ones who need our hospitality the most.
Faith Talk Questions:
1. How would you answer the question, “Who is my neighbor?”
2. How do you share the ministry of hospitality with others?
3. What can you do to show others that you care about their well-being? How can you show others the love of God through your actions?
This review is written by regular contributor Krista Lovell.