Originally written by the rather prolific childrens books author Leo Lionni in 1969, “Alexander and the Wind Up Mouse” was reissued nearly forty years later in 2006 to delight a brand new generation of young readers. Before his death in 1999, Lionni was the proud recipient of four Caldecott Awards for the illustrations in his picture books. It is interesting to note that while he was quite prolific with more than 40 picture books to his credit, he did not begin writing books for children until the age of 52 (in 1962) when he moved back to Italy after a career in advertising in the United States.
The New York Times may have summed up “Alexander and the Wind Up Mouse” best when they called it “a delicate fantasy about friendship, illustrated with bold, sumptuous collages.” The brilliant and bold imagery truly brings this simple story to life. In it, Alexander, a real mouse finds himself jealous of his toy counterpart, the wind up Willy. Everyone in the story adores the toy mouse while shooing Alexander away and trying to capture him in mouse traps, so it should come as no great surprise that Alexander wishes himself to be a toy mouse as well.
“Alexander and the Wind Up Mouse” will certainly fuel the seemingly magical attraction of children to mice while at the same time teaching them an important lesson about the value of friendship. It is also a wonderful tale that teaches that the grass is not always greener on the other side.