Review by Emily Anctil
Tundra, Penguin Random House, 24 September 2019
40 pages, hardcover, $21.99 CAD, 978-0-73526-404-5
Ages 3-7, Grades Pre K-2
In this quiet and endearing picture book, a mouse finds a tiny crown sitting in the grass. When a bear comes by and asks about it, the mouse deliberates for only a moment before he puts it on his head and declares himself king. Bear and the other animals of the forest feed and entertain the mouse as he pleases until more crowns are found, at which point the mouse’s subjects start to declare themselves kings and queens, too. Mouse is unhappy with this turn of events … until he sees that the bear has been unable to find a crown of his own. Going after his friend, the mouse is determined to do the right thing and share.
Making use of softly rendered illustration and sparing prose, King Mouse is a meditative story that touches on imagination, play, and the tenets of sharing. Seiferling’s artwork is gentle and subdued, presented largely in shades of white, grey, and brown. This is a technique made all the more effective by moments of color poignantly added during the story’s more touching turns.
The illustration is well complimented by Fagan’s measured tale of friendship. Unnamed characters and an ambiguous forest setting make this read like a fable or folk tale. Readers will be charmed by the mouse and his friends as they play at being kings and queens, as well as warmed by the heartfelt message at the centre of the story. King Mouse is a gentle, evenly-paced picture book and an excellent choice for both bedtime read-alouds and library story time sessions.
Emily is a graduate of UBC’s Master of Arts in Children’s Literature program and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. Reading picture books is her favourite thing to do. You can find more of her reviews at her YouTube channel, Page Turns.