I can’t remember when I first discovered Leo Lionni. It may have been with my now grown son twenty years ago. Since then I have read several of his works and especially enjoy Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse.
With a tale similar to The Velveteen Rabbit, this story tells of a toy that becomes a live animal through love and devotion. The love in this book, however, comes from another live animal instead of coming from a child. In fact, the images and tale center on the world of the mice and only show the feet of humans, keeping them out of sight and only as bit characters in the drama. Did I mention that there is a magic lizard?
Here are the notes I made for a review of this and the other two other books as I study the picture book format:
– What do you like most about the story?
The humor expressed in both words and images along with the redemption/magic
– What do you like most about the illustrations? The color, the characters, the technique, the compositions, the details, etc?
The simplicity. The chunky bodies. The expressive eyes. The collage feel.
– Who do you think is it for? Babies, children, adults, all of the above?
Young children and their parents
– Analyze the format. Is it a large, small, horizontal, vertical book or with a special shape?
Vertical format. Allows for full scenes.
– Do you think the format influences how we perceive the story? But because?
I think it gives room for the sort of european feel and also the close up nature of the illustrations dial into a smaller world where the human things are too large to be relevant.
– How is typography used?
With illustrations but separate and on white background.
– What elements are on the cover and back cover?
Simple connection between live mouse and wind up. Clear that these two are not that different.
– Look at the guards. Can you tell us more about the story?
– And the title page?
Focus on Alexander the live mouse and his exploration of an indoor world.
– What is the publisher?
I’m working on this review as a part of a program with writer/illustrator Flavia Z Drago through the Domestika website. She wrote Gustavo The Shy Ghost–another wonderful tale with a Day of the Dead feel in the story and illustrations.