Seven Blind Mice

by Ed Young

Ed Young's Seven Blind Mice

Children's book review by Steve Barancik

Ages 3-7

From The Blind Men and the Elephant fable

I love the game 20 Questions as a teaching tool.

It teaches the art of deduction. If your first question is, "Is it red?" and you then ask, "Is it a fire truck?" you quickly learn you've wasted a question.

Because it might just as well be an apple. Or a newspaper. (Think!)

Ed Young presents us seven sightless mice (instead of the usual three) and confronts them with a "strange Something."

Each of the first six mice examines just one aspect of the object and comes to a unique conclusion.

  • Pillar
  • Snake
  • Spear
  • Cliff
  • Fan
  • Rope

The mice, each a different color and each conducting its investigation on a different day of the week, are of course all wrong. Leave it to White Mouse, on Sunday, to conduct a more thorough investigation. She comes to this conclusion:

The Something is an elephant.

The other mice now confirm the data for themselves, and find that they agree. Or, as author-illustrator Young puts it:

Now they saw, too.

Blindness, please note, isn't only about sight.

background color changed

Seven Blind Mice

Young takes his tale from an Indian fable, The Blind Men and the Elephant. Substituting mice for men and taking his inspiration from Chinese painting styles, he presents a striking blend of color and collage that earned him a 1993 Caldecott Honor for this effort.

(His Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China, won the Medal itself in 1990.)

Seven Blind Mice resonates in an era when tricky half-truths shouted back and forth comprise the bulk of American political debate, and when scientific investigation is increasingly outsourced because we seem to lack the critical thinking skills to properly conduct it.

Let there be sight.

More Caldecott honorees.

More of Steve's reviews.

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