Book Review: Mouse Was Mad (Guest Blog Post)

Since starting my blog, I've made so many wonderful connections with many amazing people who also share a deep passion for childrens books. One of those amazing people is Barbara Gruener, a fellow elementary school counselor. Read her guest blog on one of her favorites...Mouse Was Mad.

Author: Linda Urban
Illustrated by Henry Cole
Interest Level: Ages 4-8

Why It's On Barbara's Bookshelf: From the moment you open Mouse Was Mad, you know the adorable little Mouse in Linda Urban's treasure is clearly very angry, but you never really know why. I love that about this tale, because the author leaves it open to possibilities. Start this read-aloud out by showing the cute illustrations of Mad Mouse on the inside of the front cover and pose the question, "What do you think Mouse is SO mad about?" I think you'll be surprised at what your little listeners say while you gain insight into what kinds of things make them mad. Be ready for some crazy responses; I was shocked when one of my kiddos said, "Someone has probably called him an idiot again." Ouch!

But what's the best way to be mad? Bear stomps. Hare hops. Bobcat screams. But Mouse? When he attempts to take his friends' lead, he just can't get it right. His rage grows as he tries to rid himself of the unpleasantness of his anger. When he finds the way that works best for him - getting perfectly still - he discovers he might be pretty good at managing anger after all.

The story, as well as the watercolor, colored pencil, and ink illustrations by Henry Cole, are cute and funny, filled with the kind of light-hearted playfulness that young kids especially enjoy.

Mouse's story is so incredibly cute and full of the entertaining playfulness that kids (and adults like me!) enjoy. Your students are likely to catch on quickly to the repetition as the enraged little rodent attempts to mimic the bear by stomping or be like the bobcat and get it out with a good scream. Students may even get a good laugh when he lands, over and over again, in a "mucky mud puddle." But that's not my favorite part. What grabbed me about this gem is the built in anger-management skills our little learners can use long after the read-aloud is over.

Mad lasts until it's done, right? I used this book in small group as a springboard for a "What-works-for-you?" discussion about how to get over being mad. How each friend resolves his anger makes for a wonderful discussion about what technique might work best for each student. In the end, Mouse gets still, breathes deeply, then craves a bubble bath, so we talk about the calming effects of deep breathing and warm water.

I give each student a small bottle of dollar-store bubbles that we blow as we practice taking deep breaths. The deeper and more controlled the breath, the bigger the bubble, a simply way to perfect an effective anger-management strategy. You could also get some bubble wrap and encourage students to pop each bubble individually to help their "angries" disappear.

Finally, talk with your students about other anger-management techniques they've used. What works, how does it help, and why? Expect answers like exercise, talking it out, writing it down, punching a pillow, taking a time-out, screaming. Validate these healthy choices for when anger chooses them. Then teach them this little ditty using the music from The Adamms' Family:

When I get mad (snap, snap), When I get mad (snap, snap) -
Here's what I do, to get me through, when I get mad (snap, snap).
I practice my deep breathing, I slowly count from one to ten.
I talk it out or exercise, 'til I am glad again!

For enrichment, encourage students to Insert other ideas into the two "strategy" lines and write another verse. 


Barbara Gruener is an elementary school counselor at Westwood Elementary. Barbara is a published author whose work has appeared in magazines such as Teaching Tolerance, Teaching K-8, and Daughters. She also has an IMPRESSIVE web page called The Counselor's Corner and writes for the website Character Counts!   I can only imagine how blessed the teachers, parents, and kiddos feel to have her as their counselor!

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