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*Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse* written & illustrated 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

Nicolas, Where Have You Gone?

Tico and the Golden Wings



Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse
by Leo Lionni
ages 4-8 32 pages Dragonfly Books 1974 [reprint] Paperback    

The late, great Leo Lionni is one of the towering heroes of children's picture books. Author of over forty titles when he died in 1999 at 89 years old, Lionni was awarded the Caldecott Honor for four books, every one of them well-deserved. Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse is one of those that earned him a Caldecott Honor, and it is a testament to both Lionni's art and his ability to deliver a gentle message through story.

Alexander the mouse's ongoing quest for the occasional crumb is a difficult and lonely one - every time he's seen, screams ensue, silverware is flung at him, and he is chased back to his hole with a menacing broom. One day, when no one is home, he sneaks out and discovers a mechanical toy mouse in Annie's room, complete with wind-up key and wheels instead of legs.

Willy tells Alexander of his pampered existence as a favorite toy. He's wound and played with, cuddled, even slept with. Happy to have found a friend, Alexander invites Willy on a crumb hunt, but Willy can only move when he is wound by one of the people in the house.

Alexander learns to love Willy and visits him often, sharing his travails and hearing in turn about Willy's heavenly "life". When Alexander hears of a magical lizard who can change one animal into another, he hopes that he might become a wind-up mouse like his friend.

But when Annie's birthday rolls around, Willy and some of the other items from the little girl's room are abandoned and to be thrown away in favor of new toys. Alexander finds the purple pebble required for the transformation and rushes into the garden to the lizard. When the lizard asks who or what Alexander wants to be, he makes a decision for the good of his friend.

The bold, sometimes sumptuous collages illustrating Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse are as integral to its wonder as the story text. The poignant magic of friendship never looked so wonderful.

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  Sharon Schulz-Elsing/2005 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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