Mouse Paint

by Ellen Stoll Walsh

painted mice, collaged images with title text superimposed from 'Mouse Paint'

Ellen Stoll Walsh's Mouse Paint

Children's book review by Sarah Denslow

Ages 3-6

A children's book about colors

When the cat’s away, the mice will play, as the saying goes. Of course, in Mouse Paint, the cat is asleep, and, rather than wreaking havoc on someone’s pantry, these mice help children learn about colors.

Living on a white sheet of paper, three white mice are invisible to the cat. When the cat is asleep, though, the mice discover three jars of paint and climb right in. Now there’s a blue mouse, a red mouse, and a yellow mouse. Plus some puddles of paint.

The mice do little dances in the different puddles, and their feet stir and mix and stir and mix until they get new colors. Soon they discover that yellow feet in a blue puddle make green. Then red feet in a yellow puddle make orange, and blue feet in a red puddle make purple.

The color combinations are repeated when the mice begin to paint sections of the paper (after washing themselves off). Of course, they leave one section white, because of the cat.

Mouse Paint is sparsely illustrated: the illustrations are confined to the mice, the cat, and the paint. However, the simplicity of the pictures emphasizes the colors as they come up. Not to mention, the mice are extremely cute.

The story is beguilingly simple. At first glance it seems a straightforward review of primary and secondary colors; however, Mouse Paint works in the excitement of exploration and discovery, making it memorable and fun.

Read more of Sarah's reviews.

Here's another classic take on learning colors.

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