Mahalia Mouse and her family live underneath Dunster House, an old Harvard dormitory. Foraging for food for her younger brothers and sisters, Mahalia gets trapped in a backpack and then finds herself inside a classroom far from home. Mahalia, intrigued by the lecture, starts attending classes and soon becomes a full-time student -- all the while wondering about the fate of her family. But when graduation day finally arrives, Mahalia has a wonderful surprise waiting for her.
Written as part of his keynote address at Harvard''s commencement, this latest book from John Lithgow (class of ''67) incorporates his trademark witty rhymes and includes a CD of him reading the text at the commencement. Mahalia''s story has an inspiring message for graduates or anyone whose success is worthy of celebration.
Grade 3 Up–This sophisticated story is part of Lithgow''s commencement speech to Harvard''s class of 2005. Rhyming verses introduce Mahalia, a mouse who leaves her impoverished family behind to search for food. She finds herself interested in a science course after accidentally ending up in a Harvard classroom in a student''s backpack. Her diligence and intelligence win the professor''s support, and she goes on to complete four years of study. She graduates, thus ending this story of stout self-reliance;/An epic account on a miniature scale/Of a mouse who set forth on life''s bumpy trail/And succeeded by simply refusing to fail. Children can appreciate the tiny protagonist''s persistence, but some concepts like professors, lab fees, and lectures will need to be explained. The art is rendered in gouache then digitally treated, resulting in a dark, at times somber, palette. The illustrations are exuberant whether depicting the joy on graduates'' faces or their horror at spotting a mouse in their lecture hall. The accompanying CD is a live recording of the story from the commencement ceremony, and it is a joy to listen to Lithgow''s musical cadence and hear the audience''s reactions to this presentation.–
Linda M. Kenton, San Rafael Public Library, CA
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After young Mahalia Mouse, who lives under an old Harvard dormitory, is sent to search for food for her family, she finds herself trapped in a student''s dark backpack. She escapes when he unzips his bag in a classroom, but she becomes entranced by the professor''s lecture on atoms in space and stays to take notes. The students panic when they spot her, but the professor sees Mahalia''s potential ("This mouse is a genius!"), and he makes her stay at school for four glorious years to get her degree. The original audience for this story was adults: it was part of comic actor Lithgow''s keynote address at Harvard''s 2005 commencement, and the picture book includes a CD of his reading. But children will enjoy the simple rhyming story about the self-reliant, small creature who makes it big, and the double-page, digitally enhanced gouache illustrations are beautiful, especially the image of the little mouse with her laptop, spellbound by the wild-haired teacher. Rochman, Hazel
John Lithgow is the
New York Times bestselling author of
I Got Two Dogs;
Mahalia Mouse Goes to College;
Marsupial Sue Presents: The Runaway Pancake;
I’m A Manatee;
The Remarkable Farkle McBride; and
Carnival of the Animals. An award-winning actor, he has starred on stage, film, and television. He performs concerts across the country and has recorded the CDs
Farkle and Friends,
Singin’ in the Bathtub, and
The Sunny Side of the Street. Visit John at .
Igor Oleynikov worked as an assistant at an animation studio in Russia, and became the art director there. He has illustrated a number of children''s books that were published in Europe, and his artwork was featured at the 2004 Bologna Children''s Book Fair. Igor Oleynikov lives in Moscow.