Town Mouse Country Mouse

Author/ Illustrator: Jan Brett

Publishing Information: Scholastic Inc., 1994.

Number of Pages: 30

Genre: Fiction, Picture book

mouse 1 mouse 2 mouse 3


The town mice want to experience the quiet and peaceful countryside while the country mice want to live in a town where food is ready all the time. Therefore, they trade houses. They all have a difficult time living in environments which are completely different from what they are used to. In the end, they realize that their own homes are the most comfortable. So they trade back.

It is a classic story with wonderful illustrations. The text functions as both a mirror for children to reflect themselves during everyday life and a window for them to look at the differences between living in town and in country. The mice trade houses and experience another kind of lifestyle, and finally realize that what suits it best is the best choice, a rule which can be applied in many different aspects such as view of life and view of love.

One problem I found in the book is the class stereotypes presented in the text. Town mice stand for people who live in cities while country mice stand for people who live in the countryside. Town mice always have food prepared for them while country mice have nothing but the beautiful view and natural habitats. Nowadays, people concern more about environment and humanity construction in the city while focus on technology development in rural area.

Perceptually, the book uses a lot of dark colors to depict the confined situation where both the country mice and the town mice are not used to their new living conditions. The pictures are framed for readers to look into the story. The frames are in different artistic styles which attract younger readers. Structurally, text and images overlap. Ideologically, first of all, the book teaches children that the ones that suit them best are the best choices. Secondly, the story stresses family bond. What individuals have outside is not the most important, as long as they have their family company. Thirdly, the author tries to eliminate the class differentiation by pointing out both the advantages and disadvantages of living in the town and living in the countryside.

A Crow of His Own

Author: Megan Dowd Lambert

Illustrator: David Hyde Costello

Publishing Information: Charlesbridge, 2015.

Number of Pages: 30

Genre: Fiction, Picture book

cofc 1 cofc 2


Clyde is new to Sunrise Farm after the former legendary rooster Larry leaves. He tries everything to gain popularity in the farm but never succeeds even once. With the help of the motherly goose Roberta, Clyde finally decides to be himself and calls out a crow of his own.

The book tells a story about an outsider trying to fit in. The text serves as both a window and a mirror for readers. It allows children to look at an interesting story on the farm and at the same time have some takeaways. The character Clyde is a typical figure who wants attention and popularity but keeps improperly belittling himself.

There is one plot which I found unnecessary. Roberta the motherly goose explains to Clyde why everyone else doesn’t talk to him. Not only does Clyde misspell her name, but he also does not show any appreciation to Roberta. Younger readers might think it is okay to take other people’s help for granted. The other thing I found problematic about this book is that Clyde always tries to impress everyone else. Although in the end he decides to call out his own crow, the reason he makes that decision is still to gain other people’s attention. Children should know that it is important to be themselves. Besides, I think the author should elaborate more about why the other animals despise Clyde. They look down on him not because his lack of talent, but because of his shortcomings which he could totally overcome by himself. For example, Clyde is shy and always tries so hard that he make a scene himself every time. He has his chances but he oversleeps and forgets to crow.

Perceptually, the book uses a lot of bright colors to depict the peaceful atmosphere on the farm. There are some dialog boxes in the illustrations which show readers the conversations directly. The images are not framed. Therefore, readers can actually participate in the story. Structurally, text and images overlaps. Ideologically, the book teaches children to be themselves. Everyone has his or her own advantages. Be brave and keep trying, then you will succeed.

All My Stripes


Author: Shawna Rudolph and Danielle Royer

Illustrator: Jennifer Zivon

Publishing Information: Magination Press, 2015

Number of Pages: 34

Genre: Realistic Fiction



            All my stripes tells the story of a zebra named Zane, and his experiences with autism in a classroom setting. Zane can tell he is different from his classmates, and begins worry as he feels that they only see his autism stripe (a red stripe on his forehead that indicates he has autism). It isn’t until his mother explains his many other wonderful stripes that Zane learns that his autism stripe is just one of many stripes, and does not define who he is.

This is quite possibly my favorite book of the ones I have analyzed, as it gives children a way to understand autism and the everyday differences and hardships of people who are effected by the condition. For example, it portrays Zane’s distress when the fire alarm sounds, whereas his classmates were able to remain calm and quiet. Also, the author creates a scene in which the classmates cannot understand why Zane wants to use a paintbrush instead of his hoof when doing a painting activity, because Zane does not like the feeling of paint. The back of the book provides an explanation of these scenes, and how they connect to the behaviors of real people with autism. Furthermore, it provides a guide for how caretakers can help to address and aid with these behaviors for their students/child. This provides an excellent door for both children and adults to respond to those with autism in a caring and understanding manner.

The illustrations are unframed, so readers are able to really put themselves in the scene with Zane. One is able to see the distressed look on his face as he shares his concerns with his mother, and is self-conscious around his classmates. I thought it was interesting as well that on the first page when Zane addresses his concerns to his mother, it is raining which can signify the sadness he feels.

Zane’s mother goes on to explain that the autism stripe is not his only stripe, and he has many other wonderful stripes; his “pilot stripe” that makes him good with directions, his “caring stripe” that reflects his concern for others, his “honesty stripe” which reflects his willingness to tell the truth, and his “curiosity stripe” that shows his eagerness to learn. This teaches children that no one aspect of their life defines them, and the value of self-acceptance. Furthermore, they are learning about autism and how to help in a way that they can better understand at a younger age.

Tweak Tweak

9 10

Author: Eve Bunting

Illustrator: Sergio Ruzzier

Publishing Information: Clarion Books, 2011

Number of Pages: 40

Genre: Folktale


            Tweak Tweak tells the story of a baby elephant and her mother as they wander through the jungle and encounter a variety of different animals that live there as well. Tweak Tweak’s curiosity is piqued each time she sees an animal displaying a skill/behavior that she is unfamiliar with, and she asks her mother if she is capable of doing the same thing as each animal she sees. Although her mother explains that Tweak Tweak cannot do the same thing as the other animal, she enlightens her on the different skills/behaviors that Tweak Tweak is able to do that are just as unique.

The illustrations in the story are noteworthy, as I was able to see a variety of picture codes that could be applicable to different aspects of the illustrations. For example, each time Tweak Tweak asks her mother, “Can I do that?”, she is pictured on the right-hand side of the page, indicating a lack of security. Then, when her mother explains a skill that she is able to do instead of the one she has seen the other animal display, Tweak Tweak is pictured on the left-hand side of the page to demonstrate a greater sense of security now that she is reassured of her own talents. Additionally, there is always a round frame surrounding Tweak Tweak and her mother on the page that follows the mother’s explanation of Tweak Tweak’s unique skill, as they move on from their current location. This indicates a contentedness that is felt by Tweak Tweak and her mother after they are both aware of a skill that Tweak Tweak has that is unique to her, rather than focusing on the skill the other animal has. Furthermore, the illustrations are done in bright watercolors, and the facial expressions of the two elephants are always jovial.

The story teaches children that everyone has their own unique set of abilities, and provides them with a mirror to reflect on their own. The lack of a frame around the illustrations helps children to also put themselves into the scenario with Tweak Tweak, so they can reflect further on this lesson. Also, it teaches them that instead of focusing on what someone else can do that they cannot do, they should focus on those abilities that they do possess and make them unique.

Families, Families, Families


Author: Suzanne Lang

Illustrator: Max Lang

Publishing Information: Random House Children’s Books, 2015

Number of Pages: 24

Genre: Realistic Fiction



This Monarch Award-winning children’s book provides a glimpse at the various kinds of families that people may belong to, as an alternative to the nuclear family dynamic. With explanations such as “Some families have two moms,” “Some families have one dad,” and “Some families are children living with the aunt,” children are able to see that families come in a multitude of sizes and have can be made up in all different kinds of ways. Furthermore, it ends by explaining that no matter who or how many people make up one’s family, they are all bonded by love.

This gives children a mirror that allows them to see their own family demonstrated in the text. It is helpful because it can, therefore, make them feel included and have their family composition validated to themselves and other readers. It also provides a window to show them a multitude of different ways a family can be structured, all while stressing the importance that no one family structure is better or worse than any of the others. I especially appreciated the book’s inclusion of same-sex parents, as that is a structure that society is still working toward accepting today. By including these types of families, children who belong to a family with same-sex parents can feel more accepted and appreciate that their family is recognized by the book. Additionally, by including all different kinds of families throughout the book, it provides children with a door to practice inclusion and acceptance for all types of family structures, even if they do not mirror the one they see at home.

The illustrations in the book are unframed, with the exception of a frame that surrounds each family in a way that is designed to give it the appearance of a family portrait. Although the text could exist alone, the illustrations mirror the text and are able to provide a visual representation of each family composition that is being described by the text. Additionally, the illustrations are done in bright watercolors to mirror the happiness and freedom within the story. Facial expressions on the characters are all smiles to reflect this theme as well.

The Broken Cat



Author/Illustrator: Lynne Rae Perkins

Publisher and Year: Greenwillow Books, 2002

Number of Pages: 30

Genre: Realistic Fiction

A young girl breaks her arm and it isn’t until she sees that it gets better, that she starts to feel better. As time passes, the young girl gets older and has a son. When her son’s cat breaks his leg, she reassures them both that it’ll get better.

This text could work well as a mirror for children who can identify with Frank. At a young age, a child’s best friend is typically their pet. There may be children who feel for Frank and his cat because they love their pet in the same way. Some children also look to pets for direction as to how to react to a situation. For example, when Frank sees that his cat is depressed about breaking his leg, he also gets depressed. When the cat starts to feel better emotionally about the situation, Frank follows. The only characters who appear in the story are Frank’s family, who are White. However, when Frank’s mom breaks her arm and the town welcomes her home, there don’t appear to be any non-White neighbors. There could be more diversity in this book. Also, typical of gender roles, the woman is a nurse and the male is the doctor.

Perceptually, the text adds to the images. The images are dependent on the text, as the illustrations are very basic so a reader could not take much from them alone. Structurally, many of the images in the beginning are in, what appear to be, faded bubbles. The beginning of the story is filled with memories of when Frank’s mom was a child and broke her arm, so the faded pictures may just be her faded memories. When the story comes back into the present, the images are no longer in bubbles. One picture of the cat is a real picture, as parts of the story are based on true events. Ideologically, this story brings to life the true relationship of a child and their pet. The book never mentions that Frank’s mother felt bad for having the cast because she was made fun of, she just felt that it inconvenienced her. In a way, that sheds light on the situation.

The Little Cookie


Author: Margaret Hillert

Illustrator: Donald Charles

Publishing Information: Modern Curriculum Press, 1981

Number of Pages: 32

Genre: Folktale



The Little Cookie is a classic tale of an elderly woman who bakes a cookie that comes to life as she finishes making him. Once he realizes he is alive and active, he runs off across the land meeting a variety of new animals and taking in all the scenery he could not have otherwise seen if he was confined to the kitchen. His adventure comes to an end after he accepts a ride across the stream from a sneaky fox, leaving readers to conclude for themselves what happens next.

            The story only uses a total of forty eight basic words, which are counted and listed in a guide at the end of the book, which evidences that it is a story meant for beginning readers to enjoy. Furthermore, the text is rather repetitive as the cookie goes along his different adventures, making it an easy and fun read for younger children.

The illustrations are done in brighter colored paint, reflecting the lighthearted and fun tone of the story as the cookie goes about his adventure out of the kitchen. He is typically featured on the right-hand side of the page, which interested me because he had seemed so free and excited throughout the story. This leads me to believe that perhaps he is not as secure as one may believe him to be, since he is unfamiliar in the outside world. It is not until the very end (when the fox is giving him a ride across the stream) that the cookie is featured on the left-hand side of the page, although they are moving to the right. This could show that although the cookie thinks he is secure, he is headed toward danger as the fox has other plans for him. There are some instances in which the text does not even inform the reader of who is doing the speaking, which leads me to conclude that the story is mostly a picture book narrative where the pictures could tell the story with little to no help from the text.

Although there is certainly the ideology of the dangers of wandering away from one’s caretaker demonstrated in the story, I feel as though this is mostly a fun book to engage beginning readers.

Have I got a book for you!


Author/Illustrator: Melanie Watt

Publisher and Year: Kids Can Press, 2009

Number of Pages: 30

Genre: Fiction
hqdefault Salesman Mr. Al Foxword claims that he can sell anyone anything, even the book that is being read. Al isn’t very convincing, but by the end of the book, the reader still feels like they have to buy the book.

This book couldn’t really work as a window, mirror, or door. It teaches no lesson and has no real point, other than amusement. In this story, all of the power is in the salesman’s hands. He forces the reader to continue along in the book and at the end of the book, the reader sees that a page is ripped so they are forced to buy it. The “you break it, you buy it” idea is so common in society, mainly because sellers know that no one else will want a broken item, so it would be in the seller’s best interest to make the person who broke it, buy it.

Perceptually, the words add to images and vice versa. There’s lots of dialogue, which makes it an easier read and more entertaining. The main character is speaking to us the entire time. He uses sarcasm and generic compliments to convince us to buy the book. Structurally, the words and images are set up in a way that it looks like an advertisement. Al, the salesman, appears multiple times on one page near the end. He is starting to lose control, as he cannot seem to convince us to buy the book. He also appears much bigger on pages where he is offering something that he feels is irresistible (but is actually really dumb)—almost like he’s in our face telling us to buy it.

The Only Child

Author/Illustrator: Guojing

Publisher and Year: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2015

Number of Pages: 100

Genre: Fantasy/Fiction

A lonely, only child runs away from home and finds a mysterious stag that takes her to a magical world. In this world, she feels loved and eventually misses home. Guojing takes us through the young girl’s journey back home to her family.

This book could serve as a mirror for those who can identify with the young girl. Some children may feel lonely and are only children, or at least feel as such. Children often use their imagination to “run away” to a place where they feel wanted and empowered. This story could also work as a window into the Chinese culture. The author has stated that this book “…reflects very real feelings of isolation and loneliness I experienced growing up in the 1980’s under the one-child policy in China” (P. 1). The longing for attention and love that a child feels is something that a multitude of readers can relate to.

There are no words in this book, as it is a picture narrative. Structurally, the entire story is told with pictures. For majority of the pages, the images are framed. There is no apparent pattern to the unframed images, but the reader feels more connected to those pages. The images are dark, which emphasizes the sadness the girl feels. The background to the images is more of a sepia when she is home and unhappy, but it is white when she runs away. This change in background emphasizes which images are happier than others. However, this story could just be a huge fantasy. When the child goes to bed, we see that she is holding what appears to be the stag that she rode to this mysterious land. Ideologically, this story shows readers that although it is very easy to become lost, there is always a path guiding the way back home. This story also conveys the idea that running away is an acceptable solution to feeling alone or abandoned. The parents of the child search helplessly for their lost child, but the child moseys on home like nothing happened.

The Pigeon Needs a Bath!


Author/Illustrator: Mo Willems

Publisher and Year: Hyperion Books for Children, 2014

Number of Pages: 32

Genre: Fiction

IMG_4397This dirty pigeon uses sarcasm and reverse psychology to get out of taking a bath. When his tactics don’t work and he is forced to take a bath, he realizes that baths aren’t so bad after all.

This book could work well as a way to get young, stubborn children to bathe. For some children, bathing isn’t the highlight of their day, so seeing the Pigeon do it could make them feel better about it.  Many parents could probably relate to the Pigeon’s parent who can’t seem to convince him to take a bath. The Pigeon Needs a Bath! Is a book that has some different humor, but is ultimately just a fun read. Like a typical parent-child relationship, the man (assuming he is the parent of the Pigeon) has the power to make the Pigeon take a bath. The Pigeon may feel that it is a choice, but in the end he will take a bath. Some parents could relate to this as well; they allow children to think that they have a choice if they do something, but in reality they don’t.

Perceptually, the entire book is just a conversation the Pigeon is having with himself. He invites the reader into the conversation a few times, but he is really just convincing himself that he shouldn’t take a bath. The text adds to the images, and the images are dependent on the text. Because the illustrations are so simple, it is not clear what exactly the scenes would mean without the text. Structurally, the pigeon is having conversations with the reader as if we someone is actually responding to him. This makes the reader feel more engaged with the book. Emphasized sounds help readers get acquainted with onomatopoeia.