sharing talents may be our primary contribution to our community

by Eve Titus, pictures by Paul Galdone - Random House USA, 2006
ages 1 to 9 years / diversityfunny, heartwarmers

Anatole is a mouse who is completely content with his life. But he gets a new, paradigm-shifting perspective when he hears some people talking about mice.  He had no idea that people thought:

"To be a mouse is to be a villain!"

For Anatole, this revelation puts his pride, honour and self-respect at stake - so he sets out to remedy the situation. 

By using the talents and skills that are unique to him as a mouse, Anatole starts to contribute to the human world where he previously scavenged for a living - and he changes his life (and his family’s life) forever. 

In case you're wondering what skills a mouse could possibly contribute - well, Anatole knows his cheeses!

He critiques for a fromagerie - to great popular and critical acclaim.

Anatole has been around since 1959 and that’s a good sign in the world of picture books – it has certainly earned its place as a classic. It’s a story with an enjoyable twist, appealing characters and a satisfying ending. The pictures are just right with their nod to France’s red, white and blue throughout. I especially love the mouse village.

Anatole is a simple and natural way to introduce a few French words – which won’t help much with learning French but will help with the concept of language. There’s also a whole slew of really great ideas and thought prompts here, such as:

Anatole thinks he is happy and content but finds that life has so much more to offer.
He is shocked at the people’s opinions of him but doesn’t let that bad news defeat him.
He ends up doing much more work than the other mice – but the rewards are greater too.
He sees the value in the skills and talents he has and eventually others recognise them too.
He never loses sight of who he is and where his greatest joys are found – even though he is offered a position with the fromagerie he declines and says that he prefers to remain unknown.
He takes care of his friend Gaston by inviting him to be his helper.
And Anatole is proud that he has honourably earned the cheese he takes home to his family.

Mostly though – Anatole is a wonderfully crafted story that is full of love, joy and humour, just a little tension, and a triumphant ending.  Let’s hope life is like that for all the children who read it.

You can buy Anatole via these direct links: Amazon - Book Depository

Names in this book: Anatole