Charlie and Mouse Lost and Found
Illustrated by Emily Hughes
Review copy from Chronicle Books
It’s rare that I review more than the first book in a series, but I have always loved beginning readers with perfectly paired main characters, which siblings Charlie and Mouse most definitely are. And, to paraphrase words from my review of the first book in this superb series, writing a beginning reader is like writing poetry. There is an economy of language required because every word is important, both for the weight it carries in telling the story and for readability. Part of what makes Snyder’s writing and storytelling so magical and unforgettable is the meaning she imbues into what is a connected and caring sibling relationship existing in the embrace of a loving and accepting family, To this, Snyder, and Hughes, with her charming illustrations, are bringing diversity to what is generally a bland genre. This beginning readers series puts non-binary, biracial characters on the page.
Like all books in this series, Snyder finds a way of brining Charlie and Mouse Lost and Found full circle. In the first chapter, Blanket is missing. Charlie helps Mouse search, telling Mouse not to be sad because, "Blanket is somewhere. . . an we will look in all the somewheres." Charlie finds Blanket tucked into the back of Mouse’s shirt, proclaiming, "You are the somewhere that Blanket was!" In the next chapter, while running errands, the siblings find a lost dog. After calling all the possible names they can think of, the dog comes running when Mouse says, "Why won’t you come, you big SILLY!" In the next chapter, after being introduced to Kittenhead, who promptly is chased up the curtains, Silly gets taken for a walk where everyone agrees, Silly is a lot of dog. When Silly, whose real name is Millie, is found by its owner, Mom and Dad take Charlie and Mouse out for a cone to cheer them up. It is there that a tiny puppy finds the family and a new home. Tucking the new puppy, named Boop, into bed, Charlie tells Mouse, "I think we are the somewhere Boop wanted to be." To which Mouse responds, "Yes, but Boop is also the somewhere WE wanted to be. And we did not even know it."
It will alway surprise and delight me, after reading a Charlie and Mouse book, to know that emerging readers are getting the dual experience of practicing their new skills while also having the experience of seeing a positive friendship, especially between siblings, on the page. Subtle though it may be, it is a powerful moment of social-emotional learning.
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August 24, 2021 at 01:02PM Tanya