Toe Shoe Mouse by Jan Carr, illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell
"I love this book. Will you read it to me every night?"
"All the tension and beauty of the ballet are magnified in this melodramatic mouse tale. Little Tendu (that's "Stretch" for us English speakers) scampers gracefully through all the areas of a beautiful old-fashioned ballet theater as he flees a predatory cat, broom-wielding custodian, and gang of ruthless rats until he finds the perfect home: the lamb's-wool-lined toe of a pink-satin pointe shoe. In this new picture book from Carr, the reader gets a mouse's-eye view of the theater's murky back passages, costume workshop, and the chandelier-lit theater itself, with its velvet seats and ornate plasterwork. Like a character in a classic ballet, our adventurous rodent hero experiences rapture, terror, and longing before finding a safe haven—and a new friend—in a dancer’s quiet dressing room. Bell’s digitally colored pencil illustrations are full of soft hues, rounded sketchy lines, and lots of chintzy ribbons and roses, which give the story a classic, nostalgic look. Hand this to aspiring ballerinas who can’t get enough of the ballet world."— Paula Willey
"In a comically formal first-person account, the mouse recounts how, while fleeing from rats, he found himself in a grand old theater and discovered the beautiful sounds and movements of ballet. His efforts to make himself at home go awry when theatergoers and on-stage performers chase him away, but he finds refuge in a “small satin crevice” in a room filled with toe shoes, flowers, costumes and a ballerina... Carr’s tale is sweetly told with just a hint of danger... Bell’s pencil and digitally rendered illustrations in teals and rosy pinks provide a pretty setting for a pretty little tale. A honey-coated story of interspecies friendship."
"A young mouse fleeing for her life from a cat escapes a city’s sewer through a small hole and finds herself in a beautiful theater. Enchanted by the music and the ballet dancers on stage, she longs to stay there... Tendu is charming, with her oversize ears and soft round form, while Céleste is lithe and kind. The soft pastel palette and details such as vases with roses and small decorative perfume bottles and boxes create a romantic, graceful, Old World feel. The illustrations from Tendu’s perspective capture how scary just the feet of the custodian are, not to mention his broom. Curled up in a ballet slipper, Tendu looks vulnerable and irresistible. This resourceful and enthusiastic little mouse captures the beauty and wonder of the world of ballet."
"Toe Shoe Mouse is a charming tale of a developing human-mouse friendship where the mouse takes the initiative and the human is very open to getting to know her little friend. There's also lots of action as the mouse runs from a cat, rats, and a custodian with his broom. Jennifer A. Bell's adorable illustrations capture every emotion on both friends' faces -- the scared and resourceful mouse, and the sweet, dedicated ballerina who's happy to make Tendu her pet -- and dance with him.
This is a fresh take on a ballet book and a mouse adventure story -- sure to engage tiny dancers and mouse fans alike. The mouse's gentle, semi-formal narration makes it easy to connect with the characters. And Bell's pencil and digitally rendered illustrations in a rose and teal palette, nicely varied from long shots to close-ups, capture the danger and delicacy of the budding friendship. A fun story to read aloud."
Toe Shoe Mouse is right on pointe with artwork by Jennifer A. Bell, rendered in pencil then colored digitally in a soft romantic palette, sure to please ballerinas of all ages. The writing is as exquisite a composition as befits a ballet. The dance of friendship … timeless. It should be noted that Toe Shoe Mouse is wordier than many current picture books, but in a good way. Jan Carr’s writing is reminiscent of the late great Beatrix Potter. Bravo! -- MaryAnne Locher