The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear – encourage sharing

th-3A tantalizing ripe strawberry and a hungry bear present a big problem for a little mouse.

Bibliographic Info:  Wood, Audrey (author) Wood, Don (co-author and illustrator) The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear Child’s Play Ltd (1984, 2009) 32pp.  Formats: Hardcover ISBN 978-0- 85953-182-5,  Board Book, Paperback  Interest Level: PreK-2  Reading Level/ Grade Equivalent: 1.8  Genre: Comedy and Humor  Themes: Bravery, Cooperation, Feelings, Friendship, Resourcefulness, Sharing

StorytimeWow_FinalLogo-1This material was given the StorytimeWOW Marquee Seal on March 9th, 2015. The picture book meets the StorytimeWOW Standards and has been selected for the PictureBookWOW collection.  Read the Storytime section below for details on why this book was selected.

th-6Summary:  To save his red ripe strawberry from the big hungry bear, a little mouse must be resourceful.

Review:  The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear is a first-rate read aloud with an emotionally-expressive and likable main character.  The story is about a resourceful little mouse in a strawberry patch who finds out a hungry bear is coming.  At the same time, the perfect red strawberry has ripened (and this mouse obviously loves strawberries).  Unfortunately, the voice of the narrator quashes each plan the mouse devises to prevent the bear from stealing his prized strawberry.  The big and tasty looking red strawberry pops off verdant green background illustrations.  The entire book is beautifully soft and lush.  But the star is the sincere little mouse’s endearingly emotional expressions.  Children will root for this adorable little mouse and celebrate the book’s satisfying end along with him.

Storytime: The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear received the StorytimeWOW Marquee Seal because it meets the following StorytimeWOW Standards:

  1. Dynamic writing and universal appeal.  From page one, the writing directly addresses both the little mouse and listeners, cleverly placing them in the mouse’s predicament.  Children get to feel what the mouse feels and the book’s illustrations effectively convey these emotions.
  2. A strong writing/illustrating relationship is evident. The story is lifted up by Don Wood’s exceptionally tender illustrations.
  3. This book possesses the “WOW” factor (which means children find it enjoyable).  The hook (will the bear get the mouse’s strawberry in the end) is presented a the start.  The tension this hook creates carries through until the end of the story.
  4. The story, available in a big book format for library storytime, is a read aloud classic.  First published in 1984, this picture book has a timeless quality.
  5. The illustrations work for groups.  The book itself is oversized and the illustrations are big, clear, colorful and elegant.
  6. The book possesses the positive takeaway that sharing leads to a happy ending.
  7. Cooperation, friendship and sharing are child-centered themes.
  8. The story keeps the listener’s attention and is free of squirmy moments.
  9. The broad interest level of this story stretches from preK all the way through 2nd grade.
  10. A brilliant original concept that centers around built-in participation involves readers on every page.  The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear is a group experience.

th-6Storytime Tips:  Be playful when you are reading this story by modeling the mouse’s highly expressive actions and emotions. Encourage children to do the same.  Doing this will add a layer of delightful fun for the children.

Bibliotherapeutic Usefulness:  To further involve children throughout the story, ask them how the little mouse feels and why he feels that way.  Ask kids what they think the mouse could do to save his strawberry from the big hungry bear (these questions do not always need to be answered vocally).  Then turn the page and see what the mouse does next.  Continue tracing and experiencing the mouse’s emotional journey with your listeners until the end.  In one-on-one storytimes or with very small groups, go back to key illustrations where the mouse is expressing strong emotions.  Ask kids to name the emotion and ask if they have ever felt like the mouse at different stages of the book.  If there is time, let them tell you their stories (especially in parent/caregiver and child storytimes).

Early Childhood Education and Development:  The following lists The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear‘s stand-out benefits across various early childhood education (ECE) and child development checklists.

1.  This book cultivates the following Pre-Reading Skills (see full list of pre-reading skills here):

  • Cultivates interest and enjoyment in books (print motivation)
  • Being able to describe things and events and tell stories (narrative skills)

2.  This book provides opportunities to utilize the Early Literacy-building Parent Practices (see full list of parent practices here):

  • Talking with kids and telling them stories helps them learn to express themselves and conversations.
  • Reading together is “the single most effective way to help children become proficient readers” (Every Child Ready to Read).
  • Playing is a primary way in which children learn language (and this book is very playful).

3. This book builds children’s Kindergarten Readiness (see full checklist here).  Children well-prepared for kindergarten are able to:

  • Listen to stories without interrupting
  • Pay attention for short periods of time to adult-directed tasks
  • Begin to share with others
  • Speak understandably
  • Talk in complete sentences of five to six words

4. This book follows Common Core Guidelines (see full list here):

  • Increase focus on children’s comprehension through dialogic reading.  Ask questions before, during and after telling stories.
  • Create a more participatory culture in group programs and classroom settings.  Use materials that invite participation and keep learners engaged.

5. This book supports young children’s “emerging mental abilities” by providing opportunities for “key experiences” that strengthen and broaden these abilities (see full list here):

  • Using Language (conversing about personally meaningful experiences with adults and peers, describing events verbally, naming and expressing feelings, listening to others describe things and events, listening to stories, retelling stories)
  • Representing (imitating actions, relating pictures to real places and things, role-playing, pretending)
  • Classification (labeling attributes:  what does the strawberry look, feel, taste and smell like? what parts does a strawberry plant have?)
  • Temporal Relations (anticipating future events verbally and by making appropriate preparations, starting and stopping on signal, understanding the order of events – beginning, middle, end)

Significance:  According to the publisher, the hardcover and paperback versions of this classic read aloud (published in 1982) have been extensively reviewed and have sold over a million copies.

th-13Read-alikes:  Like this story, Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle, Yo! Yes? by Chris Raschka, and But Not the Hippopotamus by Sandra Boynton are classic read aloud stories about friendship.

Links:  Author’s website  Scholastic Lesson Plan  Amazon 

Achievements:  The average of more than 400 user ratings reported on Amazon is excellent (five stars). 

Other Reviews:  Barnes & Noble   Goodreads

I was hooked by the engaging way in which this narrative addresses both the little mouse and listeners.

3Make Reading More Fun

Written by Tom Schween, founder of storytimeWOW!