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Review: LOUD MOUSE By Idina Menzel and Cara Mentzel Tells The Story Of A Little Mouse With A Big Voice

Review: LOUD MOUSE By Idina Menzel and Cara Mentzel Tells The Story Of A Little Mouse With A Big Voice

Readers are drawn into a world the two re-imagined from real-life situations and placed in the hands of two adorable little mice.

At first glance, the title LOUD MOUSE is attention-grabbing. The bold title of this new children's book will conjure up some questions from kids and adults alike. Aren't mice supposed to be quiet? That's their nature, isn't it? Who has ever heard of a loud mouse? Can a mouse be loud? And most of all, should a mouse be allowed to be loud? Let's explore this intriguing children's book a little further.

Written from the perspectives of teacher and author Cara Mentzel (portrayed as Cara Lee) and sister Broadway star Idina Menzel (portrayed as Dee) readers are drawn into a world the two re-imagined from real-life situations and placed in the hands of two adorable little mice. As the story begins, "Dee loved to sing."

Dee, the older sister mouse has a gift for singing. Her gift makes her happy. She sings all the time. Cara Lee, the younger sister mouse loves to hear her sister sing and encourages her to use that gift.

We follow Dee singing through her morning yoga exercise, during math studies, and while running a bath for Cara Lee. But because she sings kind of loud for a mouse, she usually just sings to herself, until one day on her way to school she sings out to the trees and flowers and even an anthill. "The simple feeling of the air in her lungs and her voice in the world made her happy."

Dee was preparing for a school assignment Miss Pink gave the class, "Bring in something that symbolizes what you like to do." Dare she sing in front of the whole class? Adults reading this book to children and children following along will enjoy some of the big words the authors are not afraid to use, encouraging further discussion and love of language.

At school, we are introduced to a unique selection of teachers who have interesting personalities that will open the eyes of kiddos who are just learning to recognize people's traits and characteristics. Dee's diverse group of classmates take turns with the assignment Miss Pink had given them and when it came time for Dee to show what she brought, "I brought a song." With all the confidence she could muster Dee sang her heart out, loud and proud, and caused quite a commotion in the classroom at first but soon her classmates embraced her talent and cheered her on. She felt so alive sharing her gift. Then something strange happened. This oddity made Dee go from being happy and joyful to feeling out of place, alienated and sad. (If you want to know what happened to Dee, you'll have to read the book for yourself - no spoilers here!)

We then are invited to follow Dee through the rest of the story as she struggles with whether singing was a good idea or not and if she should ever sing again. She arrives home from school in tears and tells Cara Lee she sang for her classmates, and she got big and loud, and things changed. Sweet little sister comes back with an endearing, "You've always been big and loud to me." Now, who doesn't need a sister like Cara Lee, always encouraging, ever loving!

A good deal of thought went into writing this story. There are many lessons to learn from LOUD MOUSE as we peer further into Dee's struggle with her beautiful but loud voice and the fear she has of sharing it with others. She is afraid that others will feel she is being a showoff. She also does not want to alienate herself from others. Many of us at any age can relate to this dilemma. What a great teaching lesson to be learned from this story. The book beautifully displays sibling love and I feel whether children have siblings or good friends, they will relate to Cara Lee always having Dee's back. I also like the significance of the younger sister being the strong one when her older sister feels down and unsure of herself. Dee knows Cara always has her back.

One of the most heartwarming moments in the story is when Dee snuggles in her mother's lap and her mother asks her how she felt when she sang at school. "Like the best me I've ever been." Teaching children to be themselves, acknowledge, and use their gifts is paramount to their development. How many kids and adults struggle with their gifts and talents afraid of being made fun of, or worse, being labeled a showoff? That fear can often lead to shutting ourselves down and blinding us from seeing that others are truly enjoying our gift.

The whimsical illustrations are willowy and colorful and nicely set the tone for each new page. Idina and Cara write a beautiful ending to this story where Dee finds peace within, and they leave the door wide open to a sequel. Will there be one? Read on...

In closing, this was a delightful read with a lot of fun surprises, big words, and valuable lessons. LOUD MOUSE is a special book for any, school, children's library, or grandma's house too. With Cara's background as a teacher, I thought it was particularly impressive that she thought to write a teacher's companion guide of lessons and a musical reader's theater script. This is one of those rare books that has a catchy song tied to it. With Idina's background in theatre and being a prolific songwriter, it's no surprise young and old alike will be singing the empowering anthem Idina wrote titled, THE LOUD MOUSE SONG. The storyline and lessons learned are timeless, offering children the opportunity as they grow, to develop new levels of understanding on each page.

Read our interview with Idina and Cara here!

LOUD MOUSE

Book Review
Written by Cara Mentzel & Idina Menzel
Illustrated by Jaclyn Sinquett
Published by Disney HyperionAge 3-5 years old Kindergarten - First grade

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