Title: Mouse Was Mad
Author: Linda Urban
Illustrator: Henry Cole
ISBN: 9780152053376
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Harcourt Children’s Books, c2009.

Mouse was mad. Hopping mad.

And with those simple words, Linda Urban is off and running with her first picture book. You might be saying “Linda Urban, Linda Urban, where have I heard that name before.” That’s because her first book, A Crooked Kind of Perfect winner of Michigan Library Association’s 2008 Mitten Award, was a book I blogged about last year and one I fell in love with. This book has the same appeal to kids, conveying a humor and emotion that kids will find relatable.

Mouse is mad. Readers never find out why, and it really doesn’t matter to the story. Sometimes, there is no why, especially with young children wrestling with all sorts of emotions. Instead, Urban focuses on what to do when you’re mad. Mouse tries several different things, but gets corrected at every turn by an animal who is better versed at that activity. This continued constructive criticism makes Mouse even more mad. The book has a somewhat repeating refrain that will ground kids, with Mouse routinely and predictably falling into a mud puddle after every failed attempt. He ultimately just stands very very still, quietly seething in his mud covered overalls to the point that the animals are amazed and Hedgehog specifically asks “Are you breathing?” The other animals try to immitate Mouse’s coping method, but are not nearly as successful, and Mouse slowly realizes that he’s no longer mad.

The wide-eyed animals throughout the story are so expressive, children are sure to delight in looking them over. Mouse especially conveys wide emotions of anger, fruastration, suprise, and reflection with his eyes that alternately scrunch, narrow, and open to an almost hypnotic look. Cole’s animals (Hare, Bear, Bobcat, and Hedgehog), are equally engaging, with Rabbit covering his mouth to hide a toothy grin and Bear’s rotund body sometimes filling the entire page. The fun is continued in the jacket flaps, with Mouse portrayed in various states of fury in the front and elation in the back. The cover also provides a striking contrast, with the expanding font holding up Mouse’s indignant pose.

Highly recommended for story times and units on emotions, including asking preschoolers what makes them mad and sad and how they deal with their emotions. Older children might be interested in learning synonyms and larger/longer/more descriptive adjectives in describing Mouse’s emotions.