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Children's Books / Story Reviews & Comments
by Deborah Chantson, Toronto, Ontario 2007.03.30-2007.04
Mahalia Mouse Goes to College
Mahalia Mouse Goes to College is the story of a food mission leading to bigger and better things. In the story, Mahalia is sent off by her mother to find food for the Mouse family.
So wrap up in newspaper, keep yourself dry,
Mahalia finds cheese and roast beef, but is soon swept up into the backpack of a college student. She suddenly finds herself enamoured with the course contents and new knowledge to acquire. Mahalia takes the course until a disastrous day when the rest of the students discover her, a mouse, in the classroom.
The professor, however, sees Mahalia's formula-laden notes and recognizes her potential as a genius. He ensures that Mahalia is to study with him, all expenses paid. From the illustrations, readers can see that she is even given her very own lab workstation, and the chance to pursue a college degree.
Igor Oleynikov's digitally-treated gouache illustrations add an extra dimension to the story with precise visual conveyance of emotions - wide-eyed Mahalia, the raving professor, the terrified classmates. One could also say that they portray a snapshot in time, with Oleynikov capturing such modern elements as digital cameras at the graduation ceremony, and the high-tech station for Mahalia.
This particular book includes an audio CD of Lithgow’s April 2005 convocation address at Harvard University [emphasis added]. While graduates may have found their own inspiration from Mahalia Mouse Goes to College, children ages four through eight, (as suggested by the publishers) should be able to draw their own as well, in that even the smallest mouse can accomplish the biggest things.
Review by: Deborah Chantson, Toronto, Ontario 2007.05
This book is best described as a tribute to grandparents.
In the synopsis, Oliver Crump rediscovers the joy of living. Further explanation provides that the book means to "introduce children to the experience of aging (and perhaps an understanding of their grandparents) and how fulfillment can be found at any age if you look in the right places." Mr. Oliver Crump, tired of sitting at home and waiting for spring, heads for the outdoors at the first sign of a bloom. As we journey with Oliver Crump to the hardware store, the market and the park, the only realization that he comes to is that he is not a grump after all.
The story is sweet, but makes one wish for something more . . . adventurous. Perhaps that was just enough excitement that he and the story could handle.
Overall, the tale isn't life-changing, or even moving, but it's a placid story to make one smile at the end. And the watercolour illustrations are soft and gentle -- perfect just before bedtime.
Reviewed by Deborah Chantson, Toronto 2007.04
Written by Cressida Cowell
Provenance.CA Credits & Footnotes