Once A Mouse

By Marcia Brown

About this book

In the children's book, Once A Mouse, by Marcia Brown, a hermit finds a mouse about to be eaten by a crow. He decides to make him more fierce as animals keep trying to attack him. Finally, he changes him into a tiger- the most fierce animal in the jungle- and the tiger had forgotten where he once began. His pride took over and the stories conflict changes from a person-against-person plot to a person-against-self conflict. When the hermit realizes whats happening he reminds the tiger of once being a mouse and that he should be thankful of the hermit. When the tiger hears the hermit speak of him being a mouse, he plans to kill the hermit. The hermit quickly realizes how ungrateful the tiger is and turns him back into a humble mouse.
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Literary Elements

Plot is reflected in the illustrations through many different backgrounds that are all the same colors. The background of this book is in a forest, but the illustrator uses yellow, black, and orange to color all of the forest, when normally a forest would be seen as green. In fact, the whole book does not use any colors besides these. Characters in this story have very expressional faces and it is easy to see their emotions through the faces they are making. The style is from ancient India and looks old and much like folk art drawings. This style makes the old hermit seem more powerful and majestic. He speaks like he is old and wise and the illustrations match his persona perfectly.

Physical Features

The theme of this story involves a lesson being learned, but that is not the only purpose. This story is also interesting and entertaining. The character is interesting and magical and saves the small mouse and then once again saves the tiger from himself. He is a good character that people can connect with, and by illustrating him close the illustrator makes the reader feel a connection with him. The setting is good for young readers because it is easy to tell it is a forest, but is vague enough to allow interpretation. The cover is also an important element in this book. There is both a tiger and a mouse inside of the tall jungle grass looking the same thing. It is in the same colors and style that the rest of the book is in, and gives the reader the first look at the illustrations.

Visual Elements

One illustration I found particularly interesting was the illustration where the hermit changes the tiger back into a small mouse. There are no words on the page, and the illustration is spread out over two pages. When looking at the colors and backgrounds, I noticed something different about this illustration. While tigers are normally orange, the tiger is white and the background is shades of red and orange. I believe this is to show the power being taken away from people who aren't grateful or appreciative of what they have. The white is to draw focus to the tiger being changed to a small mouse.This is one example in the book how elements of illustration can contribute to the overall meaning of the book. I think this story teaches children a valuable lesson and the illustrations contribute a lot to the story.

Another image I found interesting was the very first page of the book. In the picture, the hermit is sitting in the forest "thinking about big and little." He then sees a mouse. This illustration is interesting to me because in the top left corner there is a crow that later on tries to eat the mouse, but for now he is just flying in the corner. If one were to carefully analyze this image they may be able to guess what is going to happen next and may even be able to know what the story is about. This is not the only symbolic thing on this page though. On the last page of the story it ends with "thinking about big and little," just like it began. The author didn't just draw this picture, they thought about many things in the story, not just the words on this page.

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Artistic Style

This story is a folk art fable from ancient India. This style contributes to the overall meaning of the book by teaching children to not become ungrateful when they are dealt a lucky hand. Through the illustrations, this book teaches children the important lesson of never forgetting where they came from. They show the hermit in his hut in the forest like old hermits may have lived, as well as many other folk art illustrations such as the way the trees in the forest are depicted.

Artistic Media

I looked online to try to figure out how the illustrator drew the illustrations, and even though I was not able to find if she used pen, pencil, paint, etc., I still believe whatever she used has an important impact on the interpretation of the story. It helps develop the ability to understand, question, and evaluate how media works to produce meaning and the ability to derive pleasure from mass media and choose selectively among popular cultural icons. The author was able to create images that make a huge difference in the book with just three or four colors, and was able to use those colors to show things like power and strength. Watching the videos in class showed how hard it is to create those illustrations and how much time goes into it, and in this story it is easy to see how much effort went into making the pictures represent and enhance the story.

Elements of Illustration

In this story, the pages are not framed but the text is always in a large blank white spot and easy to see. This makes the reader invasion a forest in their own heads and makes it feel as if it is more then just pages in a book. The illustrator uses the break in the pages for distance. On some pages the hermit is on one page looking at the animal and the animal is on the other page walking toward the hermit. This makes it look and feel as if they are far from each other. On some pages the image is small and there are huge white spaces all around the image, making the reader feel that it is in the distance instead of popping out of the page. When the whole page is filled with an image, the forest in the back ground is distant and small, while the characters are at the end of the page, making them feel close to the reader and making the reader trust them more.

Interplay

I believe the texts and illustrations together play an important role in this book. The union of text and art makes this book more interesting and the impact of the illustrations means the words could not tell the story alone. Having both text and pictures draw in young readers attention and helps them elicit emotional responses by simulating the appearance of a real person or real events along with visualizing imaginary events like the magic in this story.

Conclusion

After analyzing this book I really realize how much time and effort goes into illustrating a children's book. There are so many elements that can be used to create meaning in a story. Using these elements can really teach children, and I now realize the importance of reading to children is more then just to teach them to read and write. They may be able to learn valuable life lessons and the story may trigger their own experiences and have a completely different meaning to them.

Citations

Morris, Professor. "Expanding Perspectives for Comprehending Visual Images in Multimodal Texts." Children's Literature Notes. Arizona State University, Tempe. 25 Jan. 2016. Lecture.


Telford, Mckenzie. "Once A Mouse Review." Review. Web log post. Goodreads. Goodreads Inc, 4 Feb. 2016. Web. 9 Mar. 2016.

BY: Mckenzie Telford