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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: mice, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 92
1. First Day of School Jitters? Try Splat the Cat

First Day of School Jitters? Try Splat the Cat | Storytime Standouts

Storytime Standouts reviews Splat the Cat by Rob ScottonSplat the Cat by Rob Scotton
Picture book about starting school published by Harper Collins Publishers

There’s no doubt about it, going to school for the very first time can be nerve-wracking. It is no wonder that Splat is wide awake bright and early.

When mom opens his bedroom door, his first instinct is to pull the covers over his head. When that doesn’t work, Splat tries all sorts of tactics to delay leaving for school. He can’t find socks and his hair is a mess. One thing he knows for sure, having a friend in his lunchbox is certain to help. Splat pops Seymour the Mouse into his lunchbox and sets out to meet his new teacher and classmates.Splat the Cat spread

Mrs. Wimpydimple and Splat’s new classmates are very welcoming and soon Splat is full of questions. He is especially curious to know why cats chase mice! (A definite opportunity to introduce the concept of foreshadowing) When it is finally lunchtime, Splat opens his lunchbox and his small rodent friend, Seymour is suddenly the centre of attention – and not in a good way. Splat’s new classmates do exactly what readers will predict – the chase is on!

Engaging, playful illustrations provide many details for young children to notice and enjoy. A mostly grey and black color palette is highlighted with vibrant yellow and red details that pop off the page. Those who are able to read will love the signs in the storefront windows and Mrs. Wimpydimple’s blackboard illustrations.

Harper Collins has some terrific Splat the Cat printables for children to enjoy.

Splat the Cat at Amazon.com

Splat the Cat at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts - Raising Children Who Love to Read

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2. The Little Mouse Santi, by David Eugene Ray | Dedicated Review

The Little Mouse Santi is an inspiring tale that teaches us that, with a little courage, we can all be whoever we want to be. It’s definitely the cat’s meow!

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3. Sarah Dillard, Author of Mouse Scouts Makes a Difference | Speed Interview

Which five words best describe Mouse Scouts: Make a Difference? Friendship, Teamwork, Helpfulness, Perseverance, Altruism.

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today's FEATURED PRINT...her royal highness, Cinderella. or, as the adorable little mice liked to call her, "Cinderelly Cinderelly". :)

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5. Happy Thanksgiving 2015!

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6. A mouse, cats and sushi

On the board ~

I love mice. This is how I think of them. So its really hard when my cats catch them and bring them in the house. I rescued one from under the lingerie chest the other day, which had been brought in sometime during the night (the mouse, not the lingerie chest ). I managed to corner him and get him in a box, then kept the cats in while I released him back into the shrubberies. I like to think he made it home to his little nest, where he recovered himself with some tea and snacks.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Speaking of bad kitties . . .
Here are the Catley Twins, Master Edmund and Miss Edwina ~

They couldn't resist goofing it up for their pictures. And they both got in trouble for it. Sent to bed without supper, the both of them.
Both have a bad habit of dropping mice and other small creatures off the roof onto the heads of unsuspecting people down below, so be careful if you ever visit Mewton Manor, and are walking around outside - be sure to look up once in a while.
These two are available as prints in the arCATecture shop.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~  ~ ~

I had the itch to do some dim sum and sushi drawings. These are all ACEO size - 2.5" x 3.5". 
(ACEO stands for Art Card Editions and Originals. Its a "thing". People collect these, as well as ATCs (Artist Trading Cards). The deal is, ATCs are traded, while ACEOs are sold. They are a nice way for artists to offer original art, and prints, at a more affordable price to people who might be interested in their work.)

And so ~

First up we have a Chinese Potsticker.

Then some Salmon Sushi,

And some Tuna Sushi.

I'm working on a Shrimp one too.

I could eat this stuff every day, that's how much I love it! But I know its not for everyone. So we'll see if anyone has any interest in these. I've put the originals in the shop, matted; and also have prints available, matted or unmatted.

I'm also adding some ACEO size prints for some of the other art I already have in the shop - the herb drawings, some other food, and some kids book art. Basically, if the art lends itself to be cropped into that size well enough, I'm doing an ACEO of it. It'll take me a little time to do them all, but bit by bit I'll get there.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Its been very hot here. Over 100! I managed to get my two 'show pieces' of art delivered to their respective places the other day, in the 104 heat. One went to the State Fair Fine Art Bldg, and the other went to FedEx to be shipped. Its always hard to say good bye to your art, even if its just for a show. I hope both drawings will enjoy their adventures and have a good time being ogled by the public. I will be glad to have them home again in a couple of months!

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7. Good Morning to ME! – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Title: Good Morning to ME! Written and illustrated by: Lita Judge Published by: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2015 Themes/Topics: exuberance, indoor voices, pets, parrots Suitable for ages: 3-6 Opening: Early one morning in a little cottage, Beatrix was wide AWAKE. She knew it was … Continue reading

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8. Sample Illustration: HighFive Hidden Picture

This is a new Hidden Picture puzzle illustration for Highfive Magazine. I also have some closeups of the little mouse running the race, below. Silly mice!

hp-h5-mouse 1-small hp-h5-mouse 2

(c) Highlights for Children

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9. yesterday’s talent

elephant dance 450

So, anywho, I was going to post this yesterday for the Illustration Friday theme “Talent” but missed it by THIS much. Soooo, since this week’s theme is “Yesterday”…

10 Comments on yesterday’s talent, last added: 3/9/2013
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10. Merry Christmas 2013

Happy Holidays to all of my fans from all over the world. I hope 2014 brings you lots of laughter, good health, and happiness. Here is a little painting I did for the season. Cheers!


Christmas 2013


Here is a quote from one of my favorite author’s Neil Gaiman. You can view the entire message and previous years wishes on his blog here.


I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you’ll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you’ll make something that didn’t exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind. -Neil Gaiman 2008


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11. Interview with David Cunningham, Author of “The Wacky Winter on Wiggly Way”

The Wacky Winter on Wiggly Way is David's s big debut. Ten years ago, David faced personal adversity and started to write-what evolved was a a story he penned to explain to his children the courage one needs to overcome fear, pain and loss. The epigraph for the book-"The healing in worth the pain" is the theme the weaves through this tale.

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12. The Wacky Winter on Wiggly Way, by David Cunningham | Dedicated Review

In The Wacky Winter on Wiggly Way, David Cunningham has weaved an intriguing character-driven story that induces thought-provoking moments based on hope, faith and perseverance.

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13. Mouseheart by Lisa Fiedler, Illustrated by Vivienne To | Summer Reading Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of MOUSEHEART by Lisa Fiedler, Illustrated by Vivienne; plus The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi, and Belly Up by Stuart Gibbs. Giveaway begins June 6, 2014, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends July 5, 2014, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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14. Max the Brave by Ed Vere. Warning: this post really does contain cute kittens

Image: Paul Reynolds

Image: Paul Reynolds

Image: DomiKetu

Image: DomiKetu

Image: Merlijn Hoek

Image: Merlijn Hoek

Kittens and Cute. They go together like purple and prickles, tigers and teatime, picnics and lashings of ginger beer.

maxthebraveAnd in Max the Brave by Ed Vere (@ed_vere) we meet another very cute kitten. He’s small, and black and has big bright eyes.

But even though every reader who picks up this book will definitely find Max adorable and charming, Max himself definitely does not want to be called cute. He wants to be big, grown up and brave. And to prove his mettle he’s going to hunt down his nemesis… a mouse.

But therein lies a problem. Max does not know what a mouse looks like.

The kitten’s not-knowing-any-better does indeed result in displays of exuberant courage and kids every where will identify with Max’s desire to be be hailed a hero, his refusal to lose face and the simple joy and playfulness of the chase to say nothing of the everyday challenges which arise from simply having to learn how the world works and what it made up of.

This book is an example of storytelling – in both words and pictures – whittled down to the very purest. With only a word or two on many pages, plain typesetting, apparently simple, unadorned illustrations (where much of the impact comes from the page colour and large empty spaces rather than highly detailed or vast drawings). In its bareness there is a direct line to the story, the humour, the characters. There’s nowhere for this story to hide, no embellishments, no fancy details, and this clarity gives the storytelling a freshness that is bold and very exciting.

Restraint may be present in Vere’s brushstrokes (he captures moments of determination, puzzlement, fear poetically and precisely – just take a close look at Max’s eyes on each page to get a sense of what I mean), but this is vividly contrasted with an exuberant use of colour to fill the pages. From Meg and Mog to several fabulous books by Tim Hopgood and one of my most recent reviews, The Cake, there’s a great tradition in picture books of banishing white pages and using glorious swathes of intense colour to the very edge of the pages. One could do some fascinating research into background page colour and emotions at any given point in the story; here, for example, the pages are red when Max is annoyed, and blue with things are quieting down and Max is feeling soothed.

Readers and listeners to Max the Brave may hear echoes of the Gruffalo’s Child with its themes of bravery and danger as a result of not knowing what something looks like, but perhaps more satisfying will be the recognition of characters (or at least their close relatives) from other books by Vere. Is that Fingers McGraw being sneaky once again? Could that be the monster from Bedtime for Monsters making a guest appearance? And indeed, is Max related somehow to the Bungles in Too Noisy? How lovely to be able to imagine these characters having such an real, independent life that they can walk out of one book and into another.

Packed with so much laughter and sweet appeal this book will prove a hit with many, many families. It’s certainly one we’ve taken to our heart – so much so that the kids wanted to make their own Max and retell his story in their own inimitable style.

First J sewed a black kitty out of felt, with pipe cleaners for arms, legs (and one stuffed in Max’s tale so it could be posed.



M (pen name: Quenelda the Brave) then used our new Max to create montages for each page in Ed Vere’s gorgeous book. She modelled her scenes quite precisely, took a photo, and then (as a veteran of adding moustaches and more to photos in the newspaper) edited her photos in a graphics editor to add her own sprinkling of magic.


Here are a couple of pages showing Ed’s original work (reproduced with permission) and the corresponding scene M created:


“This is Max. Doesn’t he look sweet!”


“Max looks so sweet that sometimes people dress him up in ribbons.”


“Max does not like being dressed up in ribbons.

Because Max is a fearless kitten.
Max is a brave kitten.
Miax is a kitten who chases mice.”


Here are a couple more spreads created by M (with guest appearances by Elmer as the elephant in Vere’s book, and a Wild Thing who is mistaken for a mouse.)



M had enormous fun (and showed a lot of dedication!) with this – she’s recreated the entire book out of her love for Max. I wonder what Max will get you and your kids doing…

Here’s some of the music we listened to whilst making Max and our fan-fiction:

  • Kitty Fight Song by Joe McDermott. WARNING: this video contains lots of very cute kittens….
  • Monsters, Inc. by Randy Newman
  • Another theme tune – this time to the 1958 film Mighty Mouse

  • Other activities which would go well alongside reading Max the Brave include:

  • Dressing each other up in ribbons and super hero capes. Make Mum look silly by tying bows all over here! Make the kids look invincible by making capes for them (here’s a selection of tutorials)
  • Reading Max the Brave to a cat. Several ‘Kids Read to Animal’ programmes now exist around the word; these reading programmes are believed to help kids learn to read presumably by making the whole experience enjoyable and building the kids’ confidence. Here’s a newspaper article from earlier this year if you want to find out more.
  • Learning about sneezing: There is a terrific (in all sorts of senses) sneeze in Max the Brave. This video found on one of our favourite websites, The Kid Should See This, is beautiful and revolting, fascinating and mathematically amazing all at the same time!
  • What’s the cutest book you’ve read recently?

    Disclosure: I received a free, review copy of Max the Brave from the publisher.

    Image: Marine del Castell

    Image: Marine del Castell

    1 Comments on Max the Brave by Ed Vere. Warning: this post really does contain cute kittens, last added: 6/15/2014
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    15. Elegant Elephant, Arrogant?

    elephant450 2


    … although a  repeat performance may depend quite heavily on the tightrope’s tensile strength.


    The Illustration Friday theme of the week is “repeat.”


    You know.


    4 Comments on Elegant Elephant, Arrogant?, last added: 7/24/2014
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    16. MICE is a go October 4-5 in Cambridge

    MICE2014_Postcard.jpgHere’s another stop on the busy indie comics circuit: MICE the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo, will take place this October 4-5. It’s free and you get to buy great comics. Poster by Paul Hornschemeier . More info in the PR:

    MICE is back! On October 4th and 5th independent graphic novelists and cartoonists will converge on University Hall at 1815 Massachusetts Ave. in Cambridge’s Porter Square. The event is free, family friendly, and offers a weekend of activities as the Boston area’s only show dedicated to independent and alternative comics.

    MICE attendees are invited to discover their new favorite comic books from over 150 local comic creators. The exhibition area at MICE will present a wide range of art and books: hand-made mini-comics and zines, anthologies, graphic novels, art prints, and sketches. Panel discussions will provide insightful conversations about the world of contemporary comics and graphic novels. Artists will share techniques, tips, and tricks for creating your own comics in a variety of workshops for all ages and skill levels. Sunday’s “Kids Comics Day” workshops are especially geared toward younger readers and budding cartoonists.

    This year’s show will also welcome a number of special guests — professionals from the world of independent comics and graphic novels — including James Kochalka, Dave Roman, Raina Telgemeier, Emily Carroll, Paul Hornschemeier, and Box Brown.

    MICE will be held at Lesley University’s University Hall at 1815 Massachusetts Avenue in Porter Square. The hours of the show are Saturday, October 4th, 10 am – 6 pm, and Sunday, October 5th, 11 am – 4 pm. Admis­sion is free.

    Sponsors for MICE 2014 include the Cambridge Arts Council, DigBoston, and the Million Year Picnic.


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    17. Picture book roundup - Library books

    September, National Library Card Sign-Up Month, is almost over, but if you're still looking for a good book to share, here are two new ones:

    • Kohara, Kazuno. 2014. The Midnight Library. New York: Roaring Brook. 
    By the time this month is over, I will have visited thirteen kindergarten and four preschool classrooms to promote Library Card Sign-Up Month.

    It doesn't matter what other books I have in my bag.  When kids see The Midnight Library, it's the one they want to hear!  Apart from Kazuno Kohara's eye-catching linocut illustrations in three colors, here's why I like it:
    • It features a library that's open all night long.  I wouldn't want to work there, but it makes for a really good story!
    • It highlights the fact that libraries are adaptable.  The squirrel band needs to practice some new songs for an upcoming concert?  No problem!  The library has an activity room they can use.
    • It features one of a librarian's favorite activities - reading stories.  Wolf is crying because her book is sad?  No worries! The librarian reads it with her.  It has a happy ending!
    • It's absolutely perfect for Library Card Sign-Up Month!  Tortoise can't finish that 500-page book before the library closes at sunrise? A library card is what he needs!

    See this and more interior artwork at the publisher's website.

    • Becker, Bonny. 2014. A Library Book for Bear. Somerville, MA: Candlewick. Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton.

    I've loved the Bear and Mouse series ever since it came out, and while this one is not my favorite (I still love A Visitor for Bear best!), it's a good addition to your collection of library-themed books.  You really can't go wrong with Bear and Mouse.

    0 Comments on Picture book roundup - Library books as of 9/25/2014 6:46:00 AM
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    18. Robin Hood Greeting Travelers

    Robin Hood the Mouse and his Merry Mice

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    19. A Look at the 2014 Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal Award Winner and Honor Books

    A Look at the 2014 Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal Award Winner and Honor Books | Storytime Standouts

    Storytime Standouts Shares Wonderful Choices for Beginning Readers

    The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli 2014  Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal Award WinnerThe Watermelon Seed written and illustrated by Greg Pizzoli
    Picture book for beginning readers published by Disney Hyperion Books, an imprint of Disney Book Group

    When a charming and exuberant crocodile explains that he loves watermelon, we are utterly convinced,

    Ever since I was a teeny, tiny baby cocodile, it’s been my favorite.

    While enthusiastically devouring his favorite fruit, the crocodile accidentally ingests a seed, his imagination runs wild and he assumes a variety of terrible outcomes.

    Repetitive text, limited use of long vowel words and very good supporting illustrations make this a great choice for beginning readers.

    The Watermelon Seed at Amazon.com

    The Watermelon Seed at Amazon.ca

    Ball by Mary Sullivan a 2014 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Honor BookBall written and illustrated by Mary Sullivan
    Picture book for beginning readers published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children

    There is little doubt that this dog loves his small, red ball. From the moment he wakes up, he is focused on only one thing: playing with the ball. He especially loves when the ball is thrown by a young girl but when she leaves for school there is no one available to throw it.

    This is a terrific picture book that relies heavily on the illustrations for the narrative. Apart from one repeated word (ball) it could be classified as a wordless picture book.

    It will be thoroughly enjoyed by dog lovers and young children – especially those who are eager for an opportunity to read independently.

    Ball at Amazon.com

    Ball at Amazon.ca

    A Big Guy Took My Ball by Mo Willems a 2014 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Honor BookA Big Guy Took My Ball written and illustrated by Mo Willems
    Series for beginning readers published by Hyperion Books for Children

    This charming story will remind readers that appearances can be deceiving and perspective is everything! Gerald and Piggie’s friendship is solid and Gerald is more than willing to stand up for Piggie when her ball is taken by a big guy.

    Delightful illustrations will appeal to young readers as they effectively portray a range of emotions. The text is perfect for children who are beginning to read – lots of repetition and very few long vowel words.

    A Big Guy Took My Ball! (An Elephant and Piggie Book) at Amazon.com

    A Big Guy Took My Ball! at Amazon.ca

    Penny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes a 2014 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Honor BookPenny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes
    Generously illustrated chapter book series for beginning readers published by Greenwillow Books An Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers

    It truly is a treat to read such a beautifully-written chapter book for beginning readers. Kevin Henkes has created a new character: Penny. She is a young mouse with a sense of right and wrong. In this book, she is out with her sister when she “finds” a beautiful blue marble. She excitedly puts it into her pocket and later wonders if she did the right thing.

    Lovely, full color illustrations and a thought-provoking dilemma make this a great choice for newly independent readers.

    Penny and Her Marble at Amazon.com

    Penny And Her Marble at Amazon.ca

    Storytime Standouts - Raising Children Who Love to Read

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    20. Topo’s Piano, by Harvey Stevenson | Dedicated Review

    Topo's Piano encourages and inspires young budding musicians to create their own melodies and discover the many joys and gifts of music.

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    21. Mouse Sketch 1

    val-mouse 2up

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    22. this little guy....

    ©the enchanted easel 2015
    i "heart" him! :)

    {having a bit of a love affair with some mice this week....}

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    23. not all dreams have to end at midnight....

    "a girl can dream..."
    ©the enchanted easel 2015
    especially for this lovely little flaxen haired beauty!

    "a girl can dream..." my Cinderella tribute piece. 14x18 acrylic on canvas...and i enjoyed each and every single brush stroke i laid down on this painting. the pumpkin and cute little mice have stolen my heart, for sure.


    {here's hoping the movie will be royally amazing!}

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    24. Space Dog by Mini Grey: Out of this world playfulness!

    spacedogcoverOut in the depths of the Spooniverse Space Dog is getting read to return home following a long mission sorting out planetary problems in the Dairy Quadrant. Just as he starts to unwind a distress call comes through on his Laser Display Screen. Without a moment’s hesitation our super hero, Space Dog, jumps to and rescues the occupant of a flying saucer drowning in an thick ocean of cream on a nearby planet. But what’s this?

    It turns out he’s saved his sworn enemy: Astrocat.


    Will they be able to put aside their differences as another cry for help comes in over the space ship tannoy? Will teamwork triumph as they face terror together?

    Space Dog by Mini Grey is an anarchic, adrenalin-packed adventure of The Highest Order. Utterly and joyously playful, wildly and lavishly imaginative, this dynamic and delightful journey exploring space and friendship is sublime.

    Grey’s witty language, from the hilarious exclamations made by Space Dog (“Thundering milkswamps!”, “Shivering Stilton!”) to the deliciously outlandish names of rare alien life forms (the Cruets of West Cutlery, the Fruitons of Crumble Major) has had us all giggling time and again, even on the 15th reading of Space Dog. Her pacing is timed to perfection, with dramatic stretches interspersed with moments of great relief and humour, drawing readers, listeners, grown-ups, children ever more closely in to Grey’s fantastic, phenomenal universe Spooniverse.


    Grey’s illustrations are equally packed with panache. From the detailing given to brand labels and packaging (whether on space food or game boxes) to her powerful use of suggestion (look out for what is almost missing off the page on the spread immediately before Space Dog and Astrocat land on Cheesoid 12, or the shadow redolent with threat as they turn to leave the Cheesy planet), Grey’s illustrations richly illuminate the world she has built to share with us, giving enormous pleasure every time they are returned to.


    Although there are echoes of super hero comic strips and silent movies with their intertitles, dramatic soundtracks and expressive emotions theatrically mimed, Mini Grey’s visual and verbal style is truly unique. Spirited and inventive, Space Dog is an outstanding book and fortunately you can find it right here right now in our very own universe.


    Every single page turn of Space Dog was met with “Mummy, can we do that??!!”, whether it was making a planet out of cereal packets, coming up with a recipe for supper based on the Spaghetti Entity in the Pastaroid Belt, designing our own version of Dogopoly, rustling up Astrocat’s cake, making spewing tomato ketchup volcanoes, or playing with fondue. In the end we settled for making spaceships for the characters in the book, and flying them over our patio.


    Using this fantastic tutorial from one of my favourite library blogs as a starting point, we created spaceships using paperplates, plastic cups and stickers. Where Pop Goes the Page used toilet cardboard rolls, we used yoghurt pots instead, and aliens were replaced by Space Dog and other astonauts cut out from print-offs of these drawing pages created by Mini Grey.


    We dressed up as astronauts ourselves, making space suits from disposable painting overalls, decorated with electrical tape and completed with control panels from cardboard.


    Once appropriately attired we were ready to launch our space ships. Unlike Pop Goes the Page we used nylon bead thread rather than wire to make a zip line, partly because this is what we had to hand, but also because it’s extremely smooth and there are no issues with kinking. One end was tied to the bathroom window, the other to the end of the washing line in the garden.


    Soon spaceships were zooming all over our patio…

    Later we turned our hand to making hats for a fruit and vegetable parade, inspired by the hat competition which Space Dog has to judge:



    We used origami hat tutorials to come up with these millinery masterpieces, including this army cap and samurai helmet with plenty more hat ideas here.

    Whilst making our spaceships and competition-winning hats we listened to:

  • The bilingual song Los Planetas by Nathalia
  • Cheese Please by Chris Stapleton – essential listening for any cheese lover :-)
  • Sputniks and Mutniks by Ray Anderson & The Home Folks. I discovered this thanks to this interesting NPR article, Sputniks in Space.

    Other activities you could try inspired by Space Dog include:

  • Making space ships big enough for kids (and their grownups?) to fit in. A large cardboard box, a roll of tin foil and some plastic lids or moulded plastic from biscuit boxes is all you need to get you started. (Here’s one we made earlier).
  • Playing with your food. Mini is just so inventive when it comes to playing with food, but if you want even more ideas, you could take a look at Carl Warner’s A World of Food or The Art of Clean Up by Ursus Wehrli. Both of these books are massive hits with my kids.
  • Reading the extraordinary graphic novel Laika by Nick Abadzis. This is more for us grown ups than the kids (though my 10 year old has read it) but I can’t resist recommending it whilst I’ve got a chance.
  • Would you like to go into space if you had the chance?

    Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of Space Dog by the book’s publisher.

    2 Comments on Space Dog by Mini Grey: Out of this world playfulness!, last added: 5/7/2015
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    25. Book Review: The Mousehunter, by Alex Milway

         "Be sure of it," said Lovelock. "This is the last time Mousebeard gets the better of me."
         Emiline shrank back into the passageway, the word 'Mousebeard' circling endlessly through her thoughts. He was the pirate of pirates: bigger, nastier, and hairier than any other. Ever since she was tiny she'd heard horrible tales of him and the infamous mice that lived in his beard.
         With her heart beating heavily, Emiline checked the mouse in her care. It was snoring sweetly, and making occasional sleepy squeaks. Something exciting was happening – something bigger and greater than anything that normally happened to a mousekeeper. She wanted to be part of it..."

    Twelve-year-old Emiline Orelia is mousekeeper for Isiah Lovelock, Old Town's most famous mouse collector and one of its wealthiest citizens. Emiline cares for her own Grey Mouse, named Portly, as well as all of the mice in Lovelock's vast collection. It's not a glamorous job, but Emiline is very good at it, and hopes one day to become a mousehunter, so she can go out and discover new and interesting mice.

    In Emiline's world, collecting and trading mice is valued above all else - but these are no ordinary field mice. There is the Sharpclaw Mouse: a sneaky, mischievous mouse with huge, dagger-like claws on its front paws that can slice through even wood and metal with ease. Or the Magnetical Mouse: prized by sailors for their bulletlike nose that always points due north. Or the Howling Moon Mouse: best known of all the howler mice, it howls only on nights with a full moon. And this is only to name a few.

    When Mousebeard, the most feared pirate on the Seventeen Seas, sinks Lovelock's merchant ship, Lovelock hires Captain Devlin Drewshank to hunt him down and capture him. Emiline overhears the deal and, seeing this as the chance of a lifetime, runs away and boards Drewshank's ship, excited to be on the adventure. The journey is a dangerous one, filled with pirates, and battles, and even sea monsters. And Emiline soon comes to realize that all is not exactly as she thought it was, and that no one she's met is exactly who she thought they were.

    For Teachers and Librarians:
    The Mousehunter is a book your students will love reading, and a book you will love for the many ways you can use it in your classes.

    How about a character study? Have your students - either individually or in groups - create character trading cards for each character in the book, with an illustration of the character on one side, and on the other, list the character's motivations, personality traits, and the events in which the character has important roles, etc.

    Have any map geeks in your students' midst? This story lends itself perfectly to some cartography fun: have them research maps and mapmaking from early times, and the beliefs of those who made the maps. Discuss how the cartographers' and society's beliefs dictated to some extent what went on a map (i.e. sea monsters, indications of the edge of the earth, etc.) Then have your students create a map of the world of The Mousehunter, complete with markings consistent with the beliefs of the characters and their society, notations of the places where important events occurred, and indications of the journeys taken in the book.

    Pirates! No study of a piratey book is complete without some piratey lessons, now is it? Have your students compare/contrast Captain Drewshank with Captain Mousebeard, maybe presented with a skull-and-crossbones motif, or drawings of their respective ships. Complete a mini-unit on the seafaring life: types of pirate ships, parts of the ship, ship's crew and the duties of each (with special mention of the specialized crewmen created for this book's pirates), and maybe even some fun discussions/research concerning the naming of a pirate ship. And what about a quick discussion on pirates vs privateers? Cap off this mini-unit with small groups creating labeled models of Drewshank's and Mousebeard's ships, complete with crew. And of course, there's a curse. Great stuff can be found on pirates and their curse beliefs, given even a cursory bit of research. (Sorry. Couldn't help myself there...)

    I'm running out of room, but there are so many more ways to go with this book: a unit on island life and its impact upon people who live there (great anthropology and/or societal connections here); the habits and behaviors of hobbyists and collectors; animal classification (Illustrated mouse trading cards! Or go one better: clay models of the mice, along with accompanying description cards.); science/scientific study of animals; animal classification/care/study; evolution/adaptation of animal species; politics and how it impacts people and society. So many ways to go. Which will you choose?

    Other ideas? Feel free to list them in the comments.

    For Parents, Grandparents and Caregivers:
    Your kiddos will have a blast reading this book, and so will you. Besides being an exciting, mysterious, pirate-and-mouse-filled adventure, The Mousehunter has lots to think about. For example, the book has several characters who have various contradictions about them. Some are good guys with bad intentions, some are bad guys with good intentions. What is it that causes a person to be seen as "good" or "bad?" Actions? Behavior? Does how the person is perceived by others influence what/who they are? Or is it the other way around?

    This book also explores themes of friendship, enemies, trust, and betrayal. How do you tell the difference between an enemy and a friend? Or is it not that black and white? Can a person be a little bit of both? What do you do when a friend that you trust lets you down? How do you feel, and what can you do about those feelings?

    The Mousehunter is fun to read, with its pirates and unusual mice and such, but it also explores the sometimes complicated ways people relate to each other, and it hints that sometimes, people are not completely what they seem - which can be both good and not-so-good, depending on the situation. And don't we face things like that in real life every day? (Well, maybe not the pirates and the unusual mice...)

    For the Kids:
    If you like adventure on the high seas, and pirates, and mice, then this is the book for you. OK. I know what you're thinking: Did she just say high seas and pirates...and mice? Yes. Yes I did. But the seas and pirates and mice in The Mousehunter are not your average, run-of-the-mill seas and pirates and mice. Nope. See, there are seventeen seas in Emiline's world, for one thing. And for another, the pirates are mouse-obsessed - though in their defense, so is practically everybody else in their world. And the mice? Well, they're like no mice you've ever seen before - some are older than old, some are almost four feet tall, some are bloodsuckers, some have wings, and some even have magnetic noses. Throw into the mix a couple of clashing pirate captains, a very wealthy dude who isn't quite the upstanding citizen people believe him to be, and a mysterious long-ago curse, and you've got a book you will not want to put down. (So why are you still sitting here reading this? Shoo! Go find yourself a copy of The Mousehunter and get reading. Adventure awaits!)

    Wrapping Up:
    The Mousehunter is full of danger, intrigue, mystery, adventure, and tons of mouse-collecting, swashbuckling fun. It is a book not to be missed.

    Title: The Mousehunter
    Author and Illustrator: Alex Milway
    Pages: 448
    Reading Level: Ages 10-12
    Publisher and Date: Little, Brown and Company, February 2009
    Edition: First US Edition
    Language: English
    Published In: United States
    Price: $15.99
    ISBN-10: 0316024546
    ISBN-13: 978-0-316-02454-9


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