By Leo Lionni
Leo Lionni was one of my favorite authors as a child. He is a very talented illustrator, which makes his stories all the more interesting to read. This particular book is about a field mouse named Frederick, who instead of doing physical labor and preparing for the winter, takes in each beautiful moment and ray of sunshine to save for the wintertime. The other field mice think he is crazy to not be collecting food and preparing for the cold winter. When winter comes, and the field mice run out of food and start to lose morale, Frederick tells them stories and shares his memories of beautiful spring colors and of warm rays of sunshine. This helps them get through the rough winter, and they praise his special poetic abilities.
One thing that this story does effectively is repetitive phrasing. It never repeats exact phrases, but it uses several examples of stating what most of the field mice are doing, then they ask Frederick why he isn’t doing what they are, then Frederick responds by saying why he is doing what he is doing. This common pattern will help students comprehend better and follow the plotline more effectively. It also would be a good way to incorporate predictions.
The theme of the story is a happy one; we should all honor each other’s different talents. The field mice question Frederick, but then they later realize that he is different, and that is okay; they are impressed by his difference talents and embrace him as a fellow field mouse. Each different personality has a nitch, and although Frederick’s nitch was not initially recognized, it eventually proved to be necessary to the survival of all the mice.
This could be tied into social studies and learning about different roles in society, it could be tied into accepting everyone for who they are even if they are different, and many more similar topics.