Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Written by: Eve Titus
Illustrated by: Paul Galdone
Recommended Ages: 4-8
Long before Ratatouille or Despereaux, there was another famous Parisian mouse named Anatole. Anatole was first published in 1956 and was re-released in 2006. It's a charming story about an industrious mouse with a true sense of honor.
Anatole lives in "a small mouse village near Paris." One day, he overhears some humans talking disparagingly about mice. He is quite upset to hear that humans don't like mice, and feels that his honor has been insulted. He decides then and there that he will no longer break into human's houses to steal food. Instead, he sets out to do something about it, and becomes the chief cheese taster for the struggling Duval Cheese Manufacturer. Of course, the only way that a mouse can become a chief cheese taster is in secret. So Anatole leaves signed notes by each cheese, with suggestions on how to make it better. The cheeses manufacturer follows Anatole's suggestions, and soon his business is turned around, and he is regarded as the best cheese maker in Paris. If only they knew how to find the mysterious Anatole and thank him...
Eve Titus's prose is quite lyrical, with a fair amount of French sprinkled throughout the story. Anatole himself wears a beret and blue jacket with a red scarf, all of which give him an air of panache. He is also father and husband to a lovely little family of mice, who have names like Doucette, Georgette, Paulette and Claude. All of these are sweet touches and create an overall feeling of being in another place and another time.
The illustrations by Paul Galdone are done in black and white, along with the French flag colors of red, white and blue. There are wonderful little details on each page that are worth taking the time to point out and talk about. They are tres magnifique! I'm not the only one who thinks so. Mr. Galdone won a Caldecott Honor award in 1956.
BookNosher Tidbit: Not only did Paul Galdone win a Caldecott Honor award for Anatole in 1956, but he won again for the sequel Anatole and the Cat. Both books were recently re-issued and are available again.
BookNosher Activity: After reading Anatole, I found that I had a hankering for some cheese. I think that a fun activity would be to have a cheese tasting with your child and introduce some different cheeses to them. You could have them describe those differences to you in one or two adjectives such as salty, smooth, sharp. Wouldn't this be a great way to create a lasting memory around a timeless book?