Delightful children's book from prolific writer/illustrator Arnold Lobel (1933-1987). Despite its having been written in 1972, it remains a perennial favorite of children lucky enough to have access to the public library (it's still in print as an "I Can Read Book"which is how I got my copy many years ago...).
The artwork is less drawn than whimsically sketched and many of the illustrations are like panels from a comic strip, complete with the same innocent quality. The colors are muted except for the flash of maroon/magenta that brings them to life. For the story, Lobel provides a simple, yet elegant frame for a series of "tales" about anthropomorphic mice. "Papa" mouse agrees to tell his young boys "seven talesone for each of you" if they promise to go right to sleep afterward. He then launches into the stories which make up the bulk of the book:
The Wishing Well
The first involves a poor, young mouse who finds that the wishing well is pained each time a coin is dropped into it. She finds a solution to the problem and is given her just reward.
A mouse and his mother stand on a hill in a meadow, picking flowers. She shows him how he can find shapes in the clouds. After one particular one frightens the little mouse, his mother reveals to him the transitory nature of such puffy flights of imagination.
Very Tall Mouse and Very Short Mouse
A gentle story of two mice who might have different perspectives on things ("Hello ceiling" "Hello floor") yet are able to appreciate the beauty of the world together.
The Mouse and the Winds
A mouse in his boat needs to call on the winds in order to sail but he finds that sometimes one needs to be careful what one asks for. Of course, it all works out in the end.
By far the best of the collection. A small mouse goes to visit his mother, along the way wearing out every conveyance he uses to travel. It is his final purchase from a vendor that is the most humorous. And when he finally arrives, his mother's words are a punch line that still gives me a grin to this day.
The Old Mouse
Kids love it when adults look and act silly. In this tale, the eponymous rodent (who doesn't care for children) gets a comeuppance of sorts when his suspenders break and he is forced to walk around with his striped boxers and pants around his ankles looking for aid. Some children with a novel method of holding up one's pants save the day and change his mind about how he feels about young mice.
The sort of "what would happen if?" tale that kids like, in which a very dirty mouse starts taking his bath and lets the water continue to run. It soon fills up room and the house and, finally, the whole town. There is no resolution other than a very clean mouse happily going to bed.
Which is just what happens with the seven mouse children. On the final page, Papa sits with the Mama mouse in front of the fire drinking tea.
(Used my own personal hardcover copy, of course, complete with my name permanent markered inside the front cover)