What's Up? Little Mouse's Big Secret by Eric Battut
OH! WHAT A DELICIOUS TREAT!
I'LL HIDE IT!
Mouse is NOT a share-the-wealth kind of guy, and he's NOT a carpe-diem kind of guy either. When he finds a perfect red apple, does he eat it on the spot? Does he look for a friend to share it with?
None of the above! He furtively digs a hole and hides the apple in the earth.
IT'S MY SECRET AND I'LL NEVER TELL!
And he doesn't. First Squirrel, then Bird, and in succession Turtle, Hedgehog, Rabbit, and Frog query him about his secretive behavior, but Mouse stonewalls them all, resolutely repeating his pledge not to tell.
But in Eric Battut's just published Little Mouse's Big Secret (Sterling, 2011), there's something to be said for taking the long view. While Mouse takes the fifth, so to speak, behind him the little seeds in the apple begin to give their own testimony to Mother Nature's generosity. First a seedling, then a sapling, and then a budding tree grows from his hiding place, a tree that leafs out and bears fruit. And when the bountiful red apples drop their own largesse to the ground all around, Mouse finally sees the value in sharing the results of his secret.
Artist Battut tells this simple parable of plenitude through his striking illustrations. The animals are small, almost lost in the amplitude of his large, square pages done up in a creamy background, and as the tree grows bigger and bigger, filling the page right behind him, young readers will chuckle with glee at the oblivious Mouse and the secret that is a secret no longer. This is a story with a humorous but subtle lesson about hoarding. as well as a nice one to use with a preschool springtime unit as they plant their own seeds and wait to see what Mother Nature does with them.