by Eve Titus, illustrated by Paul Galdone
Can you call it work when a mouse works in a cheese
factory? Anatole needs no training for his new job at the Duval Cheese Factory. He
takes to this job after hearing a heartbreaking surprise while listening closely from under a human’s couch.
Anatole is a very content, happy, sophisticated French mouse
- until he hears how much humans dislike mice. After hearing mice described as a “disgrace to all France” and a “villain”, he decides something needs to be done about his lifestyle;
no more sneaking into houses and taking food. He decides to earn the food he needs for his large family.
He becomes the secretive cheese taster and cheese rater for the Duval Cheese Factory. Nobody knows cheese better than a mouse, and this is
how the company becomes a success. Anatole’s suggested cheese changes are taken seriously by the president of the company and his workers. Although they try to meet Anatole, he remains only a name to the cheese factory,
leaving them cheese ratings such as “no good” or “extra-‘specially good” and suggested cheese modifications like “less black pepper” and “not creamy enough.” In return, Anatole is welcome to the Duval cheese and other foods they leave out for him. Anatole, and the other mice in the story, are proud of Anatole’s
new business and the title he’s awarded by the president of the cheese company. The picture of Anatole sitting on his chair, being welcomed home by his six children, is something to see!
Paul Galdone, illustrator of nearly three hundred books, found the right look for Anatole and this little French mouse town. Although the majority of the drawings are in black and white, the colors of the
French flag highlight different images. Some rooftops, chimneys and clothing are in red. Some trees, cheeses, and furniture are in blue. A little colored
French flag even flies in the mouse village. Nostalgic details
and French nuances can be found on the streets in Anatole’s village and in his house;
a few French words appear in the story, either right in the text or in illustrations, and Anatole and his good friend Gaston dress in a classy French style.
Eve Titus, who also created the famous mouse character Basil, found a lasting treasure with Anatole. This first book in the Anatole series is a Caldecott Honor Book and
has been re-issued in hardcover for its 50th anniversary. First published in 1956, this 2006 edition ensures Anatole will still be loved tomorrow. Eve Titus and Paul Galdone knew how to make a story. Anatole can inspire all ages.