David Ezra Stein, in his first book since winning the Caldecott Honor for Interrupting Chicken, continues to demonstrate incredible versatility in his illustrations while holding firm to his audience: very young readers and listeners.
This time Stein tells his story in the form of a letter—a long letter—from Mouserella to her Grandmouse. We see on the title page the poignant goodbye hug, and the dedication page is a photo captioned “you leaving.” What little mouse has not pined for her grandmother after a visit? And what should she do to lift the mood left by the departure and made worse by rain? Write a letter to Grandmouse, of course!
Mouserella does not know what to write at first, but, once she gets going, she has a LOT to say! From the state of her beaded belt to the cat at the zoo to her block tower fort and her stick-fetching ladybug to the fun of a seed parachute, Mouserella breathlessly captures every single detail of her days since her Grandmouse left. Each event is illustrated in similarly stream-of-consciousness style—with photos (taken with the camera Grandmouse left her), sketches, mementoes . . . even a special pack of ketchup. (“I bet you don’t have them in the country.”) The warm family relationship is celebrated through the little memories that Mouserella knows her grandmother will treasure. Using colored notebook paper as stationery, Mouserella often reflects the paper color in her crayon and pencil illustrations, adding a bit of order to her flowing missive. The final photo, a self-portrait of a kiss for grandma, lets the reader know just how much she loves her grandmother.
Teachers will love showing this book to their students in writing classrooms as it is a perfect answer to the “I don’t have anything to write about” problem. Grandparents who long for a letter from their grandchild will secretly tuck this under the pillow, a not-so-subtle hint. Any grandmouse would love a letter like this—and many children will be inspired to write letters after reading and rereading this one. If I got a letter like this from my niece, I would certainly save it in a special place.