Book #197: Frederick

Frederick -- coverA friend of mine recently shared some of her favorite picture books with me, and I was delighted to revisit Frederick, by Leo Lionni, after all these years. It’s from 1973.

Mice have been on my mind lately, too, since yesterday morning I found a baby one trapped in a quarter-full glass of milk on our counter top. Ugh. It was hideous, but cute, too, and since I couldn’t bear to kill it, I emptied the glass outside. It’s been freezing out there, though, and with some reservation I went out after five minutes to see if the mouse had run off into the bushes.  It hadn’t.  It was lying there slowly freezing to death, so I picked it up with a plastic bag and laid it to rest in an empty fish tank we have on a shelf in the kitchen. The mouse looked dead and I figured that was the end of it, but after about three hours it perked up and what else is there to say except now our family has a pet mouse. It’s back there munching on a piece of toast as I write these very words.

Perhaps we should call him Frederick.

Frederick is a dreamer. Instead of doing the hard work of collecting food all summer long and storing up for the winter, Frederick lollygags around and daydreams. When the summer is over and the cold, gray winter arrives, the other mice listen to Frederick’s stories of the colors in his mind (colors and memories, rather than food, that he has collected in his mind) and are nurtured by the richness of his memories and his imagination. That’s about the long and the short of it, but the paper cut-outs of the mice are totally endearing and charming, and it’s nice to read a book about an unhelpful character who doesn’t suffer some consequence at the end (read: The Little Red Hen) but is instead appreciated for his poetic sensibilities.  ABZ

Frederick -- working mice

 

Frederick -- colors

 

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