Monday, August 17, 2009

Alexander and the Wind-up Mouse

Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse
Leo Lionni ~ Pantheon, 1969

Though I do try and stick with obscure finds and books readers might not have seen in a while, every now and again I have to give props to the classics. Even when the selection might seem pretty obvious to me, lots of folks out there might not have the same feeling and posting a book like this could reunite it with a long lost love. So, without further chitchat, I give you one of the books that I most remember from my own youth. A Velveteen Rabbit/Toy Story-ish tale about a real mouse and a fake mouse and a psychedelic lizard that used to scare the bejesus out of me.

Said toy mouse (Willy) and real mouse (Alexander) meet and mutual sparks of admiration fly... but when a box full of throwaway toys threatens to separate them forever, it takes a wily lizard and a full moon to set the story right.... well, that and a magical purple pebble."Lizard, lizard, in the bush," he (Alexander) called quickly.
The leaves rustled and there stood the lizard.
"The moon is round, the pebble found," said the lizard.
"Who or what do you wish to be?"
"I want to be..." Alexander stopped.
Then suddenly he said,
"Lizard, lizard, could you change Willy into a mouse like me?"
The lizard blinked. There was a blinding light.
And then all was quiet. The purple pebble was gone.

A great grass-is-always-greener story with Lionni's iconic illustration style utilizing pen and ink, stamping and cut or torn pieces of colored paper. A three-time Caldecott Honor winner, it's a shame he never pulled in the Medal because his books are so known and well-loved the world over. Plus, he was also an advertising guy. Hum... I wonder why so many advertising guys in the 60s turned to children's books, and why it doesn't happen nowadays like that? Or does it? Anyone, anyone?

Also by:
Fish is Fish
Little Blue and Little Yellow
Tico and the Golden Wings


dan pinto said...

Loved this book growing up. I totally forgot about it until now.I have to look up more work from Lionni. Thanks!

Vivi said...

I love love love that cover. I used to dream about being inside that stacking doll. And that yellow...

Janna said...

I never read this book by Lionni, but I read (and saw Weston Woods videos) of a lot of his others... I LOVE the illustrations! And the stories are fun, too.

I just discovered your blog and am loving it! So many of my favorite books from childhood on here.

Burgin Streetman said...

something makes me think my childhood copy had a white cover. this one is an ex-library copy with library binding.

Elizabeth (Need More Shelves) said...

Hello! I'm writing to let you know that you have been nominated for a Book Blogger Appreciation Week Award for Most Eclectic Taste. Please email me ASAP at for more information on your nomination. (FYI - the deadline is Friday, August 21.) Congratulations!

Alexandra said...

I love, love, LOVE Lionni.

Also, I just finished reading a new book, I'm your bus by Marilyn Singer, and the illustrator, Evan Polenghi, works in advertising (Gap, Amex, and others). So there are still some... but you're right, not as many!

Erich Reinhardt said...

This was my all time favourite book as a child. I remember memorizing it word-for-word, though I have pretty much forgotten the words by now.

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