Sunday, April 15, 2012

Book #106: Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears by Emily Gravett

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Little Mouse is afraid of lots of things: spiders, loud noises, sharp objects, getting lost, the list goes on and on. Little Mouse uses her pencil and collage elements (photos, newspaper clippings, found objects) to record and illustrate her fears. Just when you think there’s no hope for Little Mouse, she realizes that even though she’s afraid of nearly everything, there are humans who are afraid of her!

The text is very minimal and all written from Little Mouse’s point of view. But don’t turn the pages too fast, because the illustrations are a feast for the eyes, full of details and insights into the reasons for Little Mouse’s fears. The book is made to look like a journal to record your fears and overcome them. Each page features and defines a phobia in the upper right or left corner, much as you might see the date printed in the corner of a journal, such as “Chronomentrophobia (Fear of clocks).” The illustrations utilize the entire page and there are design elements that add to the experience. There's a fold-out map of the Isle of Fright and many pages have flaps and mouse-nibbled corners.

Use this book as a jumping off point to talk about fear with kids. Before you read the book, tell them that everyone is scared of something. You might share one of your fears to let them know that even adults are afraid of things. Explain the definition of the word, phobia, and explain how it is often used as a suffix to create words that define fears.

As you read the book, ask them if they’re afraid of each of the things that Little Mouse mentions. After you read the book, talk about the ways that you could help Little Mouse feel safer and maybe overcome her fears. She’s afraid of the monsters under her bed, could you check for monsters together and then read her a bedtime story?  

The book begins with a motivational introduction of sorts from Gravett that states that this Big Book of Fears is: 

“the essential book to help you overcome your phobias. It has been put together by an expert in worrying, who draws on a lifteime’s experience of managing her fears through the medium of doodle. You too can overcome your fears through the use of art!”
Gravett provides directions to create your own Collage of Fears, just as Little Mouse does in the book. Encourage kids to find the “official” name for their phobia. Check out the alphabetized, kid-friendly list provided by the Kids Net Encyclopedia.

Pair this book with Henke’s Shelia Rae, the Brave for a storytime about facing your fears. How are Little Mouse and Shelia Rae the same? How are they different?


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