Little Mouse on the Prairie

Little Mouse on the Prairie

Other than its cute title play on the television show with a similar name, Little Mouse on the Prairie didn’t impress me very much. Sure, it had cute doe-eyed illustrations much like the rest of the books in the Serendipity series produced in the late 1970s for children, and I do like that it features animals, whom my daughter loves as well. But the book itself portrays a very confusing message for kids, and I wasn’t even sure what to say when my daughter didn’t get the book when we were finished with it, either.

It’s about a mouse who works all throughout the summer while all of the other mice play. She prepares for the winter, collecting food and creating a comfortable, cosy home for herself. She ignores the mice who are playing, saying she has no time for such play. Of course, come winter, the other mice are homeless and miserable, just about dying in the cold while she is warm and safe in her home. Eventually she decides to let them in out of the goodness of her heart, despite their previous teasing, and they are all safe throughout the winter. She teaches them to weave and sew while they teach her to laugh and sing and we readers are reminded to remember her laughing on cold winter days.

Really? I mean, I don’t want the mouse to turn the other mice out, but that is the end—to remember her laughing? Had she laughed all summer like they’d insisted, none of them would make it through the winter!

Striking a balance between the fun and the work should have been the focus, but it wasn’t, and we are left not knowing how the other mice fare the following seasons. Do they take the lessons to heart? Do they prepare for winter, too, while she, in turn, plays a bit while she prepares herself? We don’t know. All we know is that they did nothing but play all summer and still got free room and board, and maybe even learned how to care for themselves out of it, though we don’t know if they ever really do.

She in turn did learn songs and dances, which are important—and I think it’s a fair exchange if they, say, helped collect food and such, or if she had plenty of food to share out of the goodness of her heart—but I still don’t see a lesson there. Her hard work paid off; she lost nothing from being industrious. Hopefully she, too, strikes a balance, but again, we are left not knowing.

My best friend loves this series, but I am not sure why. I think I might pass the books on to her if she wants them because I just don’t understand them. Perhaps the other books in the series will be better.