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*Mousie Love* by Dori Chaconas, illustrated by Josee Masse
Mousie Love
by Dori Chaconas, illustrated by Josee Masse
Ages 3-5 40 pages Bloomsbury USA May 2009 Hardcover    

The first time Tully sees Frill, she is sitting in the flour. She has flour on her nose and all over her pretty dress; she doesn’t speak to him, wave to him, or do anything that stands out as memorable, but he falls in love with her. Propelled by his intense feelings for her, Tully climbs up to the flour bin and proposes. When Frill doesn’t answer his question immediately with a yes, a no, or a maybe, Frill panics and starts searching for ways to win her heart.

From the first moment they met, Frill has been trying to tell Tully something important - if only he wouldn’t interrupt her! She loves the new house he sets up for them under the stove, and the huge blueberry muffin he finds for breakfast, but she wishes Tully were more patient when waiting for her answer to his marriage proposal. She should let him know quickly, though, because Tully is looking for a shiny star to give her. That means facing the cat again, and they have already had enough close encounters with her.

The illustrator incorporates two mementos from Tully and Frill’s courtship into the final scene. At Tully and Frill’s wedding, a blueberry is going to be added to the gift area, and a daisy like the one Tully brought for Frill earlier in the story is used as part of a canopy in their wedding. Readers will see a familiar face at the wedding, as well. Before the wedding takes place, the cat that appears in this story falls off the roof while chasing Tully and Frill. She recovers in time for the wedding, though. Wrapped in casts and bandages, the cat watches the outdoor wedding while sitting on a window ledge inside the house.

Tully and Frill are two mice in love. When Tully looks at Frill, his pupils resemble hearts. When Frill sees Tully, she smiles. Sometimes their tails entwine. Set in a house with a pantry full of ripe tomatoes, drying herbs, and pickled cauliflower and carrots, the addition of a cat to the story adds dramatic chase scenes and high-speed escapes. The cat loves to chase Tully and Frill everywhere, around the kitchen, the houseplants, the wood bin, even up the chimney.

These are no ordinary mice. Tully looks refined in his knee-breeches and fitted vest and jacket. He never gets dirty, even when rearranging dustballs into a heart. Frill’s outfit echoes some of the detail on Tully’s outfit. Her dress puffs out just as Tully’s knee-breeches do, and both Frill and Tully have stripes in their outfits.

Repetition of a phrase in this story allows children to anticipate the author’s next word, and the author’s choice of vocabulary, such as prettily powdered, eager flutter, burbled and flitter, introduce children to interesting adjectives and verbs.

Mice appear in several of Dori Chaconas’s children’s books, including The Christmas Mouseling. The author of the easy-reader series “Cork and Fuzz,” Chaconas started writing stories when she was a stay-at-home mother. Her first story appeared in Highlights for Children. Chaconas lives in Wisconsin.

Josée Masse has a background in graphic arts. Before becoming an illustrator, she worked as a designer. Her illustrations appear in the children’s books Goodnight, Sweet Pig and The Princess Who Had Almost Everything. She lives in Quebec.

Mousie Love is a great story for Valentine’s Day or any day you need a little love in your life.

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  Tanya Boudreau/2009 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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