BooksForKidsBlog

Friday, November 07, 2008

"Meet the Author!": Library Mouse by Daniel Kirk

Lucky Sam is a library mouse, with a home in a hole in the wall behind the Children's Reference section of the library. Naturally, Sam is quite well read:

Every night the library belonged to Sam.

And every night Sam read and he read and he read--picture books and chapter books! He read biographies and poetry, cookbooks and sports books, fairy tales and ghost stories and monsters by the dozen.

Eventually, Sam begins to get the urge to write his own book. "Write what you know," he reads in books about authors, so Sam's first book is titled Squeek! A Mouse's Life, illustrated with self portraits for which Sam posed in front of his little mirror.

Under cover of darkness, Sam sneaks the his mouse-sized autobiography into the Biography section, along with The Big Fall by Egmont Shellton and Super Hippo by Hippy Ottamus), where the next afternoon a surprised little girl comes across it and shows it to Ms. Forrester, the librarian. Both of them are intrigued and impressed with the little tome. Inspired by his success, Sam soon follows up his first book with The Lonely Cheese and The Mystery of Mouse Mansion.

As each little book is located by a different boy or girl, the story of the mysterious self-publishing author spreads through the library. "Who is this Sam?" everyone asks. Then Mrs. Forrester gets an idea. She posts a note for Sam on the bulletin board, inviting him to the library's "Meet The Author" celebration so that all his fans can ask him questions about how he writes his books.

Sam is flattered but nervous. A room full of excited kids seems no place for a shy mouse, but he really wants to share his joy in writing with his fans. Sam comes up with an idea and pulls an all-nighter preparing for the next day's event:

All night long he wrote and drew and snipped and folded and stapled little rectangles of paper into mouse-sized books.

The next morning the librarian and children follow Sam's signs into the conference room where they find an intriguing sight. On the table there is an empty tissue box with a small banner which says "MEET THE AUTHOR." with an arrow pointing downward toward the opening in the box. A little girl follows the directions:

"Oh," she said in surprise, for at the bottom of the box lay Sam's little mirror and the little girl saw her own face smiling up at her. "Me?" she said. "An author?"

Next to the mirror was a stack of tiny blank books and a pile of pencils that Sam had sharpened with his little teeth.

As a happy Sam watches from his hiding place, the children soon sit down and begin to write and illustrate their own little books, finding out, as did Sam, that writing can be a lot of fun.

Library Mouse is an engaging way to introduce classroom units on libraries, authors, or books in general. Kirk's illustrations of Sam's mouse-sized home and his clever pictures of Sam shelving his own creations in correct shelf order will appeal to kids and librarians alike, and this book should become a staple for annual use during American Library Week or Children's Book Week.

Pair this one with Michelle Knudsen's Library Lion (reviewed here September 2, 2007), Carla Morris' The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians, or James Daugherty's Caldecott classic, Andy and the Lion (Picture Puffins).

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