PPBF: Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse…Be Thankful for Who You Are

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susanna Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of picture book writers, illustrators, librarians and others who contribute a picture book review.

Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse

Written and illustrated by Leo Lionni

Publisher: Pantheon Books (1969)

Ages: 3 and up


Believing in yourself, friendship

Opening lines:

“Help!  Help!  A mouse!”  There was a scream.  Then a crash.  Cups, saucers, and spoons were flying in all directions.  Alexander ran for his hole as fast as his little legs would carry him.”


Alexander, a real mouse, is jealous of the toy wind-up mouse who lives in the warm house and is loved by the children.  He courageously asks the powerful lizard wizard if there is some way he can become a wind-up mouse.  When he finds the wind-up mouse has been thrown away, he decides to use his magic wish to turn the wind-up mouse into a real mouse so that the two can live together and be friends.

Why do I like this book:

This book is a Caldecott Honor Award winner!  Mr. Lionni’s simple yet bold illustrations capture the pathos of the story.  And the message is so powerful…children (and adults) often think that ‘the grass is greener’ and that they would be happier being someone else.  Our happiness comes from within ourselves…being someone else cannot make us happier.   When Alexander realizes that he is the fortunate one, he also realizes that life would be sweeter if he had a friend to share it with him.  This is a perfect story for the Thanksgiving season…and I will be sharing it this coming Sunday in my new Show Me How Picture Books and Crafts for Kids series on YouTube.

Related Activities:


Photo courtesy of http://www.education.com/activity/article/Paper_Mosaics/

You will need: One piece of dark construction paper, several small pieces of colored construction paper cut into small squares, glue stick and a pair of scissors.

  1. Talk to your child about the illustrations in the book…many of them look like cut-paper collage and mosaic…in fact, if you have old wallpaper sample book or old magazines, you can use those instead of the small pieces of colored construction paper.
  2. Help your child plan out the flower (or whatever your child decides to create on the page)…you can help draw the picture with marker to define each section…or your child might decide to just fill the page with the small cut paper in his own design.
  3. Use a dab of glue to stick each piece onto the paper.
  4. When dry, hang in a place of honor.

Lesson guide for teachers: http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/lesson-plan/alexander-and-wind-mouse-discussion-guide

Dramatization of the story for students: http://www.csuchico.edu/~cguenter/FourArts/DR/DRalex.html

Because November is such a special month and there is so much going on, I want to reshare some links to wonderful events going on in the kidlit/picture book community because I never know when someone new visits my blog who might not know about them.

  1. Picture Book Month: Visit the website of Dianne de Las Casas to join in the month-long celebration of PICTURE BOOKS!  Every day, a different picture book champion (author, illustrator, etc.) is guest posting…you won’t want to miss these….they will inspire you and help you remember just why you love to read and write picture books.
  2.    Picture Books and Crafts for Kids: Please pass the word about this new YouTube series for parents and teachers and kids…every Sunday, I’ll be choosing a picture book to read aloud…and then I’ll do a simple related craft project.  Two weeks ago, I spotlighted Yes We Can by Sam McBratney and last Sunday I read The Little Red Caboose by Marian Potter and we created a geometric-shape train picture.  This coming Sunday, I will be reading Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse and we will be making the flower mosaic.  Each segment highlight a parenting problem such as setting up good bedtime routines or a children’s challenge like learning to be a good friend and believing in oneself.
  3. PiBoIdMo:  Picture Book Idea Month is the brain-child of children’s author,Tara Lazar.  If you signed up, you are already immersed in the world of picture books…trying to come up with 30 fresh ideas for picture book manuscripts during this month.  But, even if you have not joined the challenge, please run over there…don’t walk… to read an AMAZING guest post EVERY DAY this month…these posts will instruct and educate you…as well as motivate you to write the picture book that every child will want to read over and over again.
  4. Please don’t forget about Reach Out and Read…we need to GAB (Give a Book) before they can ROAR (Reach Out and Read).  If everyone who loves to read donates enough to buy just one book, the New York City Bellevue Hospital program (one of the largest in the country) will be able to replace the books that were lost in Hurricane Sandy.
  5. 12×12 in 2012: November is already half-way gone…and I’ve finished my November picture book draft for Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Challenge to write a picture book draft each month…hurray!
  6. I also wanted to share an article from the University of New Hampshire’s Penman Review…three tips for writers before their book is published.



I know the media is starting its holiday campaign to turn our young children into super-consumers…but young children don’t need fancy electronic gadgets…they only need a good picture book, a few simple inexpensive art supplies (like paper, crayons or markers, safety scissors and glue stick) and your positive participation.  If you are looking for a great resource that will give you 100 picture book summaries and easy matching craft and cooking activities, you can purchase a copy of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.  At under $20, this book makes a PERFECT gift for any parent or teacher of children ages 2-8…as well as for daycare providers and grandparents.  No batteries required…powered by a child’s imagination!   If you order from my website in the month of December, there will be a special bonus gift included with each book (more about that next week)…the price is a little more than on Amazon…but I’m also offering FREE SHIPPING…so it evens out the cost.  Take your pick…whichever site you want to use…just make sure you grab a copy for those special people in your life who would benefit from having this award-winning resource!

This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susanna Leonard Hill.  Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.   This is an unbelievable resource for any parent, teacher or children’s librarian.

About viviankirkfield

Writer for children - Reader forever Mom of 3, educator, author of SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, 2018), picture book junkie, lover of travel, hiking, cooking, playing Monopoly with my 8-year old grandson and fly-fishing with my husband.

Posted on November 16, 2012, in 12x12 in 2012 Challenge, Perfect Picture Book Friday, PiBoIdMo, Reach Out and Read and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. Such a great book! This book has an important message. I like the name of the Lizard Wizard. 🙂


    • Thanks, Erik!  Glad you liked the name ‘lizard wizard’…that is what i call the lizard in the story…maybe I should write a picture book story about a ‘lizard wizard’…hmmm…I think that will be my PiBoIdMo idea for today. 🙂   


  2. Love this book and its message. Like how the author thought outside of the box. And, great activities.


  3. A good lesson to learn, Vivian. Wow…what a list of resources! You are on a roll…


    • Hahaha…hope I don’t roll off the world with all that is going on, Jarm. 🙂  I love Leo Lionni books…they all have such great lessons…but are such beautiful stories, the lessons flow naturally. 🙂   


  4. What a very comprehensive post today, thank you. I haven’t heard of this one, Vivian, and it seems like an enduring story.


  5. Catherine Johnson

    That is an adorable synopsis, I am totally hooked. From competition and envy to love and friendship, lovely!


    •  I know, Catherine…I love that Alexander had that ‘ah-ha’ moment and decided to give life to the wind-up mouse. 🙂  If you can get a copy (at the library or used bookstore) I think you will love it. 🙂  


  6. This is one of the more stunning Lionni books – thanks for remeinding me I ought to read some again!


  7. Oh how I love Leo Leonni. What a clever idea for a book. I’m crossing my fingers that my local library has this one!


  8. Hi Vivian,
    Wonderful book review and craft idea! 🙂


  9. I love this story, Vivian! But then, I love pretty much everything Leo Lionni did! Swimmy… Fish Is Fish… the one about the mouse who is a poet and keeps the others happy in the dark and cold of winter which I can’t remember the name of right now which just proves I’m losing my memory far too early… 🙂 Thanks for adding Alexander to our list 🙂


  10. Awesome post Vivian 🙂


  11. This is one of our favorites, Vivian. We sometimes look around for purple pebbles.

    Congrats on finishing your November manuscript! I’ve got about 2 sentences jotted down.


  12. We love Leo Leonni’s books. I’ll have to try to get this one because we haven’t read it yet.


  13. Leo Lionni only seems to write classics. I have not read this one to my kindergarten kids for a few years. Thanks for the nudge to take it off the shelf and dust it off with a reading.


    • Thanks for stopping by, Sandi!  You are right…and I know there are so many worthwhile new books out there (participated in Kathy Davis’ 31 in 31 this October)…but I’m partial to the classics. 🙂   


  14. I’m hooked. Thanks for the great review. Placed on hold through inter-library loan….yea!


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