Frederick by Leo Lionni

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Frederick by Leo Lionni

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Jo Heffer
Reviewed by Jo Heffer
Summary: There is a family of field mice who work very hard all through Summer and Autumn getting ready for the long hard winter. It's arduous work but as long as they all put their weight they should be ready. However, one field mouse, Frederick, doesn't seem to be doing any work. Is he just being extremely lazy or is he actually contributing in a different but equally helpful way?
Buy? No Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: October 2011
Publisher: Andersen
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1849393096

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The story of Frederick starts by introducing a chatty family of field mice who live in a stone wall alongside a meadow not far from a barn and a granary. Unfortunately, the farmers have moved away meaning that there are not such rich pickings to collect for the winter. However, by working hard night and day the little family look like they could collect enough to see them through the long hard winter. Frederick is the only mouse who seems to see things slightly differently though. Instead of working as hard as his brothers and sisters, he spends his days staring at the meadow seemingly half asleep. Not surprisingly, the other hard working mice are none too pleased so they challenge Frederick. His answer amazes them when he claims that he is collecting supplies of a different sort – sun rays for the cold dark days ahead, colours for the grey winter and words for the long days when they might run out of things to say.

Soon the cold hard winter arrives and before long the little family of mice are running short of supplies. It's cold and dark and none of them feel like chatting. They remember Frederick's claims from earlier and ask him about his supplies. Will he be able to supply the sun rays, the colours and the words to see them through until Spring? They certainly hope so if they are to make it through the long winter!

'Frederick is an appealing story which seems to show that there is more than one way of solving a problem. Frederick's approach is unusual to say the least but I'm not sure that it is totally convincing for young children. It's a pleasing idea that he can store up the sun rays and the colours but my daughters weren't really falling for this. They also felt that the ending was a bit abrupt causing my youngest to ask 'is that really the end?'

I also wonder whether having a main character who is happy to let others do all the work provides a good role model for small children. I can imagine that my youngest daughter will be only too happy to stare into space collecting words when she really should be tidying her bedroom!

Overall, 'Frederick' is a simple story with accessible text making it suitable for emerging readers. The illustrations have a simple charm to them as well. Essentially, there is nothing really wrong with this book but it's not particularly special either which is a problem with so many stunning picture books available on the market. It's the sort of book that children might enjoy once but, if my daughters are typical, they are hardly likely to want to return to.

Another book about mice working together to overcome a problem is Mouse Trouble by John Yeoman

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Buy Frederick by Leo Lionni at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Frederick by Leo Lionni at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Frederick by Leo Lionni at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Frederick by Leo Lionni at


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