Thelonious Mouse

Reviews of Thelonious Mouse:

Day after day, Thelonious Mouse sings cat-taunting scat, skittering through the house, tail swishing, daring Fat Cat to awaken and give chase.
His antics worry his cautious parents, and his timid siblings display neither talent nor inclination for the exuberant jazz that inspires Thelonious to dance and sing. When Fat Cat chases him into the playroom, Thelonious discovers a dollhouse just his size. Later, a toy piano captures the interest of the curious mouse. “The box had black and white steps, but they didn’t seem to climb anywhere. Each step rang out as he ran, hitting higher and higher notes.” That piano’s the catalyst for an unlikely new duet, as Fat Cat (now Glad Cat) leaps up to yowl and dance along with Thelonious, clearly mesmerized by the mouse’s infectious syncopations. Wilsdorf’s antic mice are reminiscent of Valeri Gorbachev’s nuanced animal illustrations, though Fat Cat is more, er, broadly drawn. Plenty of action and droll interior details to spy should capture kids’ fancy, while grown-ups trying this as a read-aloud might need to pause to untangle their tongues.

Replete with scat-y, cat-and-mouse–y wordplay, this is giggle-worthy fun.
--Kirkus Reviews, 5/​01/​11

Thelonious Mouse has so much music in him that he can’t contain it, which is unfortunate in a household where the rest of the mouse family concentrate on moving about quietly so as not to disturb their adversary, Fat Cat. Thelonious’ parents admonish him for clapping and slapping the walls, which causes Fat Cat to chase him, but Thelonious won’t be silenced. When Fat Cat finds Thelonious dancing on a toy piano in the playroom, it appears to be the end of Thelonious. Instead, Thelonious captivates Fat Cat with his thumping rhythm. Fat Cat becomes Glad Cat and goes from harasser to fellow jammer. Jovial cartoon illustrations reflect the lively action of the playful text, which is enhanced by Thelonious’ bebop-infused lyrics woven throughout the narrative: “Cat’s a flop! Too fat to stop a bouncy mousy whip-whopping nonstop bebop!” Children will cheer for this rascally oddball rebel. Pair with Eve Bunting’s Mouse Island (2008), also about a cat and mouse who overcome their natural instincts to live in harmony.
--Randall Enos (Booklist, 5/​15/​2011)

K-Gr 3–Thelonious Mouse is full of energy, enthusiasm, and daring, attributes that manifest themselves in razzy, jazzy, snazzy onomatopoeic and rhyming phrases that he sings everywhere he goes. He loves to swish his tail as he taunts the resident cat: “Swish-cheese…Swish-cheese,” “Swish-a-whisker…Swish-a-whisker.” Thelonious drives his family nuts with all the near misses he has with Fat Cat, but the mouse persists and eventually figures out a way to get the feline to bop to the beat as well. Wilsdorf’s playful, colorful, and detailed illustrations express the energy Thelonious exudes from one page to the next. This picture book will be a challenge for anyone who tries to read it aloud cold. Getting the beat and the tongue-twisting phrases just right takes some practice, but the outcome is well worth the effort. A “bouncy mousy whip-whopping nonstop bebop!”
--Maggie Chase, Boise State University, ID (School Library Journal)

Selected Works

iPad App, Poetry
"A Word's a Bird slows down the frantic speed of most apps for children to fit the slower pace of Nature. The beauty of the illustrations, the meticulous work of the artists, and the interactive play combine to make a wondrous learning experience, a terrific way to expose children to poetry, art and Nature itself."
--Billy Collins, Poet Laureate
of the United States from 2001-2003

"A truly enchanting and poetic journey, this application is a treat for the eyes and ears..."
-- iPadou

“In perhaps the app’s most engaging feature, tapping out any melody on the lilies causes the ducklings to mimic it.”
--Kirkus Reviews
Picture book (ages 4-7)
"Replete with scat-y, cat-and-mouse–y wordplay, this is giggle-worthy fun."
--Kirkus Reviews
"The hip rhythms and tongue-twisting humor in this jazzy, poetic, fun-to-read-aloud book make it a keeper your child will want to read over and over again."
--Cricket Magazine online
— “Getting the beat and the tongue-twisting phrases just right takes some practice, but the outcome is well worth the effort.”
— "Children will cheer for this rascally oddball rebel."

Thelonious Mouse got his name from the great American jazz composer and pianist, Thelonious Monk. This jazzy mouse risks his tail and more to fierce Fat Cat, because Thelonious has “too much music in him to stuff into a mouse hole.” Yet beneath the sometimes scary hilarity, young readers discover a vital message: It takes courage to be all we can be.

Thelonious Monk showed that creative courage all his life, persevering with his unique style of music when others called him “eccentric.” He was also a devoted family man, who composed songs for his son and daughter.
Orel Protopopescu is a poet of lyrical mastery and ease—and this, her initial volume of verse!
--Vince Clemente
Poetry and history (grades 5 and up)
Thirty-five poems, from the Han dynasty to the modern era, in English and Chinese. “It's about as close to Chinese literature as young English-speaking readers can get.”
--School Library Journal

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