Library Mouse

by Daniel Kirk
Abrams, 2007

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Library Mouse

Book Description

A small creature offers his big voice for aspiring authors everywhere!
Every child can be a writer—and Library Mouse shows them how! Beloved children’s books author and illustrator Daniel Kirk wonderfully brings to life the story of Sam, a library mouse. Sam’s home was in a little hole in the wall behind the children’s reference books, and he thought that life was very good indeed; for Sam loved to read. He read picture books and chapter books, biographies and poetry, and ghost stories and mysteries. Sam read so much that finally one day he decided to write books himself! Sam shared his books with other library visitors by placing them on a bookshelf at night…until there came the time that people wanted to meet this talented author. Whatever was Sam to do? The joy of reading, writing, and sharing is brought to life in this warmhearted tale.

Reviews of Library Mouse

Review from Booklist *Starred Review*
Put a mouse in a library and you have a sure seller; make the mouse a writer and you have a sure-fire hit. Sam lives in a hole in the wall behind the children’s reference books. During the day he sleeps, but at night he reads all kinds of books. One night Sam decides to write and illustrate his own. He writes about himself, and he draws his likeness, posing in a little mirror and sketching what he saw. He slips Squeak! A Mouse’s Life into the biography section. A girl finds it and shows it to the librarian, who is intrigued. Then Sam writes more: The Lonely Cheese and The Mystery of Mouse Mansion. Increasingly curious, the librarian posts a note on the bulletin board, inviting Sam to Meet the Author Day. What is Sam to do? His delightfully unexpected solution will inspire kids to write their own stories. In a rainbow of colors, the art, which features a slightly flattened perspective, ranges from small oval pictures of Sam busily sharpening pencils with his teeth to full-page views of the busy library. One great picture shows Sam’s face filling the page, dark eyes alight and white whiskers bristling. It’s a show-stopper. This is ready-made to introduce a classroom writing activity, though some of the pictures are too small to be appreciated in a large-group readaloud. Even so, this is fun, fun, fun. Cummins, Julie

Review from New York Teacher, Check It Out Column
Here’s why I chose it:
 This work exceeded the objectives of our story hours. The book entertains, fosters the imagination, presents opportunities to discuss illustrations, reviews library vocabulary and genres, promotes the world of knowledge and instills the reader with an immediate desire to start writing. How’s that for $16.74?

How teachers can use this book in the classroom: This quiet little tome is great for introducing or reinforcing library knowledge and encouraging writing (English language arts). The underlying messages are not missed by young minds. I used one piece of paper and folded it up to form a small book suitable for a child to write his or her inspired “near-future-contribution to literature.” The students loved it!
Here’s what I like best: The illustrations are generous, colorful, complete and intriguing. Students pay particular attention to them and end up comparing and contrasting the physical appearance of Sam, the library mouse, throughout the book. I highly recommend this title for every elementary school. You will want to have your own copy or two.
Recommended by: Kim Donius, Alfred-Almond Central School, Allegany County

Review from Children’s Literature
Sam, a library mouse, lives in a hole behind the children’s reference books. This charming fellow, who dresses in shirt and pants and sleeps in pajamas, really enjoys his life there, sleeping during the busy days and relishing every kind of book at night. After filling his mind with both facts and imaginary wonders, he decides to write his own book. He works hard to finish Squeak! A Mouse’s Life; then he places it on the shelf, in the Biography section of course. His next opus, The Lonely Cheese, goes with the picture books. The children and librarians notice his books and begin to read them. They wonder who the mysterious author is and decide to invite him for Author Day. Instead, too shy to appear himself, Sam inspires his fans to write a book of their own. Our hero is introduced on the front cover, sword in hand, standing atop a cat’s face on a book, his foot on a pencil. The back and title page have him kneeling between books, hushing finger to mouth. Naturalistic vignettes and full-page scenes show Sam at work or imagining, as well as an active library. The titles of the books around him add to the fun.

Review from Kirkus Reviews
A writing rodent inspires young library patrons. Sam the mouse has a cozy home behind a wall in the children’s reference section, and every night he sneaks outside to read, feeling that the library belongs to him. His head full of information, he decides it’s time to write a book of his own. Squeak!, his memoir, becomes an instant success when it’s found stuck in a shelf by a young student. Sam follows up his debut with The Lonely Cheese and The Mystery of Mouse Mansion. Mrs. Forrester, the head librarian, leaves Sam a letter suggesting a “Meet the Author Day.” Industrious Sam (who sharpens pencils with his teeth) turns this into a writer’s workshop, with all the attendees turning out books of their own. Though the substantial text skews to older readership, the earth tones in Kirk’s gouache illustrations lend warmth to his tale, which should encourage young would-be writers. (Picture book. 4-8) (Kirkus Reviews)

Daniel Kirk speaks about Library Mouse
Library Mouse
 started off as a book called “ABC in the Library”.

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My editor at Abrams, Howard Reeves, wanted me to write a book that took place in a library. The original idea was that it was going to be an alphabet book, with all the things you might discover in a library—A for author, B for book, C for computer, and so on. I went to the local library and did my research, and then wrote the text for the book. Not long afterwards I got a surprise when I went into a bookstore and discovered that somebody else had already published an ABC book about their library! I went back to my writing desk and came up with many other ideas for stories that might take place in a library. I completed several of them, and when I compared my finished stories, Sam the library mouse won out!

It was fun coming up with my main animal character, Sam. I asked myself: should he look silly, like a cartoon mouse, or should he look more realistic? Should he have big ears and eyes, or little tiny ones? Should he be black, brown, white or gray? What could I do to make him look unique and special? How old is he supposed to be? At first, when my editor told me my sketches of Sam looked too mousey, I wasn’t sure how to make my mouse look friendlier. Then I realized that my Sam wasn’t wearing anything in the pictures but his own fur coat, and I put him in a variety of little mouse-sized outfits. Surprise! Suddenly he looked much cuter.

Things to think about and do, after you have read Library Mouse
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  1. This one is obvious. Write a book of your own! Check out the activities section of this website for instructions on how to make a book out of a piece of paper. Make a book about yourself, or your favorite pet, or your favorite teacher or best friend. It’s fun!
  2. My story of Library Mouse leaves a lot of questions unanswered. See if you can come up with some answers to these questions—where did Sam come from? Does he have a family, and if so, who are they? Where do they live? Do they like books, like Sam does? Where does Sam get his clothes? What is Sam going to write about in his next book? Do you think he’ll ever meet a human being, in person, or is he just too shy? Do you think Sam will ever leave the library for an adventure of his own?
  3. I have often wondered if there are other animals that like to do human things; are there pandas who like to paint? Monkeys who enjoy math? Salamanders who love science? Pick an animal and tell a story about what he or she likes to do, and why.

                              Copyright 2015 | Daniel Kirk