A children's book written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond. This has always been a personal favorite of mine. It's a step-by-step story of the vicious cycle that ensues if you happen to give a mouse a cookie. It starts out with him wanting a glass of milk to go with the cookie. I don't want to give away the ending, but if you haven't had the pleasure, do yourself a favor and look this one up!

copyright Laura Numeroff 1985. HarperCollins. 32 pgs. children's picture book. ages 4-7.

This is Laura's tenth book for children, and by far her most popular. It was turned down by nine publishers before HarperCollins got wise and bought it.

If a hungry mouse knocks on your door, you might give him a cookie. But if you give him a cookie, he's going to want a glass of milk. But if you give him a glass of milk, he might need to look in a mirror to make sure he doesn't have a milk mustache . . . he might then notice that he needs a trim . . . he might have to borrow the scissors . . .

It's a cute story (cute without being hateful), illustrated well by Felicia Bond. Most of the funniest bits are in the pictures, which show a little boy being progressively run ragged by the escalating demands of the mouse.

This book was born on a long, boring car trip. Laura was trying to make a friend laugh by telling a silly story, and by the time they got to Oregon, she'd written the book.

Laura visits classrooms all over the country, and the kids always want to hear this book. Sometimes she warns them that she may make a mistake or two while reading, and that they should please let her know if she screws it up. Then she says something like "If you give a mouse a banana. . . "   - and the kids howl.

There's also a song, "Doin' the Mouse Cookie," as well as an accompanying dance. No word on what that involves.

thanks to:

This book was followed by another, similar story-

If you give a Moose a muffin .

Also by Laura Numeroff.
Similar circular plot, with different animals and props. Kids love this because they love seeing people interact with animals in silly ways. I think kids wish they could invite all of outdoors into their living room for dress-up and story time. A great book.

"If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" is a picture book published in 1985, written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond. This book actually postdates my childhood a little bit, so I don't think I ever read it when I was in its intended target market. But over the years, curiosity built up in me, probable triggered by the conditional statement in the title. The "if" in the title draws interest in the way a simple statement would not.

There are, it turns out, consequences to giving a mouse a cookie. The mouse will want milk. And then a napkin. And then a mirror to make sure he still looks tidy. And so on: the story follows the Mouse through a whirlwind of requests and projects that come from the initial cookie donation. Many children's books follow a repetitive structure that is easy to grasp, and this book is a prime example: each page is based on an "if...then" where the previous activity leads to a new activity, that is somewhat easy to guess based on how the last activity concluded. It makes for fun reading and is a good way to introduce children to chains of causality.

But I was also am wondering about the book's subtext. It might seem like a joke to overanalyze a children's book, but the book left me genuinely curious about the message. Because the mouse makes a casual request, which quickly snowballs into being invited into the boy's house and taking over his day. Not all of the mouse's projects are selfish, and some are quite altruistic (cleaning the boy's house), but they are certainly an imposition. It could be that the book is an encouraging one, about how making or accepting small gestures of friendship can lead to new and exciting opportunities. However, part of me read it as a cautionary tale: that accepting people on a casual level can often lead to being taken advantage of and intruded on by those with boundary issues. Some might think that me putting this level of thought into the book is a bit much, but these issues did jump out at me while reading.

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