Monday, February 18, 2013

Young Fredle by Cynthia Voigt

I am always on the look out for low age, high reading level books, and this is a great one. Fredle is a kitchen mouse who spends his days in a nest behind the utility closet, and his nights foraging on the kitchen floor.  He is very cautious, and timid, but he has a friend, Axle, who is more adventurous. One day Fredle and his friend find a mysterious food that is so delicious that they eat until they are sick.  In the kitchen mouse culture there is only one fate for a sick mouse: he gets "pushed out."  The other mice push him out into the open floor in the day time. Luckily for Fredle, the lady of the house sees him before the cat does, carefully traps him in a bottle, and then releases him outside.  The outside world is bewildering and terrifying to the young mouse, but gradually, and with the help of some barn mice, he learns how to survive in the bigger world. Cynthia Voigt is a Newbery medal winner and knows how to write characters. Fredle and all the animals he meets have well developed, and interesting personalities, that realistically motivate their decisions.  She also does a pretty good job of seeing the world from a mouse's point of view.  The only part of the story that was a little less believable was when Fredle spends some time with a pack of raccoons.   Fredle stays with them for several days before making a serious attempt to escape.  That is pretty un-mouse like, but is was good for the story.  There is a lot to think about in this story, and it would make a good literature circle book for 3rd or 4th grade. Even a younger child, (second or even first grade) who was a good reader, could enjoy it. (227 p)

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