A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse

illus. by author. 40p. Toon Bks. 2012. RTE $12.95. ISBN 978-1-935179-19-1. LC 2011049499.
RedReviewStarPreS-Gr 2—From the endpapers, Mouse asks the timeless question of many young travelers, "Are we there yet?" Inspired by Viva's experiences traveling to Antarctica aboard a Russian research ship, the oblong picture book offers basic facts about the region (it is cold and penguins live there, for instance), while Mouse tries to figure out when it will finally be time to go home. Viva's illustrations employ only primary colors, white, black, and gray, but in the best way. Every bit of space is used to tell the story, which is perfectly suited for storytimes, reading aloud, or even reader's theater. The text is simple enough for fairly new readers to tackle, and interesting. Picture clues are used to help with some of the vocabulary words. This book begs to be shared again and again. Pair it with one of Mo Willems's "Elephant & Piggie" books (Hyperion) and bring on the giggles. Outstanding.—Amy Commers, South St. Paul Public Library, MN
“Are we there yet?” This familiar refrain, usually heard from the backseat of a car, is the first text that appears (on the front endpapers) in this easy-to-read picture book, very loosely based on the author’s trip to Antarctica. Mouse, with a human friend, reluctantly embarks on a sea voyage to a frigid clime. In the midst of adventure (“Look at the big sky!...Look! What is that? It’s a whale!”), the small creature -- seasick, cold, and wet -- repeatedly asks: “Can we go home now?” New readers will grab onto that pattern like a life preserver and enjoy the humor in Mouse’s wild ride. Viva’s thoughtful comic-panel design includes quarter-page frames for quick patter and full pages for the man to patiently explain, “Not yet, Mouse.” The short, funny questions and answers will help new readers build confidence with each page turn. Color and design, rather than detailed pictures, set the scene, with strong shapes and a limited palette, including icy blue, subdued red, and off-white. By the final endpapers, readers will be gratified to discover that Mouse has come full circle: “Can we go back there soon?” Children will want to go back soon, too. robin l. smith

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