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July 2023 Literary Gem: Loud Mouse

For Christmas, we received the picture book Loud Mouse by Cara Mentzel (a former early elementary teacher who specialized in children’s literacy) and Idina Menzel (voice of Elsa from Frozen in addition to countless other roles and Mentzel’s sister). During the craziness of Christmas, I don’t know whom to thank for adding this literary gem to our family library, but since it was first opened in the frenzy of gift wrap, it has been a frequent bedtime story and playtime story (and anytime story) with our children, especially with our middle child, Hazel.

The gist of the story (spoilers included, but seriously, if you have littles who covet the stage, read this one and read it often), is Dee who discovers her voice in her first school performance. She’s a small mouse with a powerful voice who loves to sing. She sings everywhere and anytime, but this was the first time she had the opportunity to share her voice in a public setting. Her teacher, Miss Pink, asked the class to bring something that symbolizes their interests.

(Mrs. Forisha, the former ELAR teacher, has a penchant for kid stories that embed “big words”).

So Dee took this opportunity to not only share her voice but share a Dee original. She sang her song loud and proud. She was showered with accolades from classmates, teachers, and even the principal, and during all this, she literally grew big, too big. Dee didn’t know what to do with herself, doubted whether it was the right thing to share her song with her class, and as she walked home in the rain wallowing in her insecurity, she once again shrunk down to her normal mouse-size, convinced that she needed to give up singing.

(Mama V, girl-mom to three daughters, also has a penchant for kid stories that feature sisterly bonds).

It was Dee’s little sister, Cara Lee, that gave Dee the perspective she needed.

What I love about this story is that it encourages our children to be true to themselves. Hazel is my loud mouse, Dee, eager to perform a Hazel original on assorted instruments, making up lyrics or dance moves, eager for dress rehearsals of invented storylines usually with a parade of stuffed animals and other dolls as extras in her scenes. I know there will be a time when she will feel a pressure or desire to dim her shine, but I hope she never does. That little light in her shines so bright and she will sing it loud and proud. Dee’s talent is singing, but all kids have talents and interests. What I would hope for all children who listen to Loud Mouse is that they have an opportunity to find whatever it is that makes their light inside shine brighter. Every kid has talents, but sometimes it can take a while to find them.

Whatever your talents, whatever your age, sing it loud, sing it proud.


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