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.
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.
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!”