Book: Two Mice
Author: Sergio Ruzzier
Age Range: 2-4
Two Mice by Sergio Ruzzier is a simple picture book for preschoolers, part friendship tale and part counting book. Two mice (one white, one white with patchy brown spots) live together in a cozy little house. After a bit of minor discontent concerning the allocation of three cookies, they set out in a rowboat on an adventure. They get a tad more excitement than they bargained for, but end up safe and sound at home in the end.
The only text in the book is the labeling (mostly once per page spread) of one, two, or three objects ("three boats", "two oars", etc.). This minimal text combines with the illustrations to imply more detail. For instance, when there is "One rower", the laboring mouse appears visibly discontented, while his friend relaxes, smiling. The numbers also, obviously, provide opportunities for kids to practice their counting. Most counts are straightforward, but the spread involving "Two stars" requires identifying both a star in the sky and a starfish.
Ruzzier's pen and ink and watercolor illustrations are what lift Two Mice above the common. The expressions and postures of the mice convey their moods perfectly. There are lovely colorful but muted backgrounds, particularly of sea and sky. There is humor as well as pathos in the plight of the mice, quite a feat for a book with such minimal text and relatively spare illustrations.
Ruzzier leaves some ambiguity regarding the gender of the mice (to my eyes, anyway). They are not clothed or accessorized. Parents can decide (or let their children decide) what they think the gender and relationship dynamics are. The mice sleep side-by-side twin beds. Are they friends? A couple? A gay couple? Who can say? This flexibility broadens the potential appeal of the book, I think. (Though the mice are undoubtedly white.)
Two Mice is a book that I think will work well for one-on-one reading with two and three-year-olds, kids old enough to chime in with what they think the mice are thinking, but young enough not to demand more text or a more complex plotline. The counting practice, of course, is a bonus for this age group, as is the presence of cookies. Parents will also enjoy the soothing yet amusing illustrations. Two Mice would make a nice first or second birthday gift.
Publisher: Clarion Books (@HMHKids)
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher
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