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*Nicolas, Where Have You Been?* by Leo Lionni
Also by Leo Lionni:

A Color of His Own (Spanish-English bilingual edition)

Little Blue and Little Yellow [board book]

Six Crows

Little Blue and Little Yellow (50th Anniversary Edition)


Fish is Fish

Tico and the Golden Wings


Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse
Nicolas, Where Have You Been?
by Leo Lionni
Ages 5-8 32 pages Knopf June 2007 Hardcover    

A group of field mice are upset - they can never find any berries because the birds always take them, leaving the mice with only rotten or unripened berries. One of the mice, Nicolas, decides to go in search of a patch of berries where no birds have been or can find it. He finds himself in a large open field when a big black bird flies over, swoops down and takes him away. Nicolas, however, is a strong, smart mouse. He wiggles and twists until the bird loses his grip and Nicolas falls into a bird’s nest. The baby birds are nice to him, telling him stories and inviting him to stay.

The mother bird comes home with worms; the baby birds introduce Nicolas, and she says he can stay. When she finds out he loves berries, she flies off and brings him the sweetest berry ever. This continues until one morning when Nicolas wakes up and finds the nest full of wonderful berries but all the birds gone - they have grown up and flown away from their baby nest.

Nicolas carefully gets out of the tree, and there below are his mice friends. They are relieved to see him, but when they hear where he was, they don’t let him finish his story - they start shouting and planning an attack on the birds. Nicolas quickly tells them how good the birds were. The birds Nicolas met in the nest fly up, and they’ve brought berries for all the mice. From then on, they are all great friends.

Leo Lionni originally wrote and illustrated Nicolas, Where Have You Been? in 1987. When he died in 1999 at the age of eighty-nine, he was well-known for his work including many awards - even the Caldecott Honor Book medal for several of his books.

Nicolas, Where Have You Been? is a wonderful story to read to little ones, but a few pictures might be disturbing to very young children – such as the large black bird swooping down to get Nicolas. Also, when the mice imagine what they want to do with the birds, they are depicted with long sharp sticks, chasing the birds and actually piercing some of them. I recommend the story for the good lesson on getting along with everyone and not prejudging others with the caveat to wait until they are a bit older to understand that scene was only in the mice’s imagination.

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  Karen D. Haney/2009 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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