Mouse Who Saved Egypt, The
Karim Alrawi; illustrated by Bee Willey
published 2011 • 10 ˝” x 8 ˝” • 32 pages • full-color throughout • Ages 3- 8
ISBN 9781566568562 • hardback • $16.95 •
"In his second work for children-following the successful 2000 picture book The Girl Who Lost Her Smile-Vancouver's Karim Alrawi plucks a story from the rich history of his native Egypt and renders it appealing to a young and diverse audience. The Mouse Who Saved Egypt is a wonderful retelling of an ancient Middle Eastern folk tale with a straightforward plot: a prince takes the time to rescue a mouse trapped in a thorn bush; when the prince later becomes pharaoh, the mouse returns to save Egypt from attack. Alrawi's language is as timeless as the tale he tells. His extensive experience as a playwright is on full display; his third-person narrator recites the tale passionately but without embellishment, and when the rhyming prayer to the sun god Ra appears in the story, it is relayed with appropriate reverence and solemnity. Illustrator Bee Willey's generous spreads whisk readers away to the sun-bleached deserts and cool blue stones of ancient Egypt. Unlike the text, though, the illustrations have just a hint of the comic: a horse with a sheepish grin, men running amok with arms flung above their heads. The message of the tale-faith in the reciprocity of good deeds - is presented in an elegant and functional manner. It assures little ones: do something good, and one day you'll be rewarded for your kindness."
-Kristina Campbell, Quill & Quire
"Alrawi's (The Girl Who Lost Her Smile) story carries the same do-unto-others message as Aesop's ‘The Lion and the Mouse.' Instead of a lion, a prince initially saves a mouse, disentangling it from a thorn bush. ‘True greatness is being kind,' the mouse tells the prince as he runs off, ‘and true kindness is never forgotten.' Wiley (The Jesse Tree) creates a desert atmosphere by placing friendly, soulful-eyed characters against digitally manipulated backdrops of hieroglyphics, palms, and sand dunes, all lit with an eerie, gauzy glow. The prince is made pharaoh, and an army threatens the country; in repayment for the prince's good deed, the mouse persuades his fellow mice to sabotage the enemy army's equipment. The mice ‘chewed through the leather of their bows, their saddles and the straps of their shields. In the morning, the mountain men could not tie their sandals, and their clothes fell off.' The image of small creatures defeating the powerful is always gratifying, as is the book's thoughtful portrayal of Egyptian cultural themes."
"Children will be intrigued by the mystery and magic... The text is well supported by the rich two-page illustrations in mixed media. The images show the vastness and beauty of the Egyptian desert, as well as details of ancient culture and art, food, architecture and religion... Recommended."
"The Mouse Who Saved Egypt receives Bee Willey's lovely drawings and tells of a young prince who rescues a tiny mouse. When Egypt is threatened by a powerful enemy, the mouse then saves the kingdom. This ancient Egypt folk story requires some reading skills but will provide a satisfying addition to any ethnic folk story collection."
—Midwest Book Review
See how a small kindness can be repaid a thousand times over in this retelling of an ancient Middle Eastern folk tale.
Karim Alrawi is the author of the award-winning picture book The Girl Who Lost her Smile. He is the editor-in-chief of Arabica, the English language magazine for the Arab-American community. He is also playwright-in-residence at Meadow Brook Theatre in Michigan. He has over 30 professionally-produced plays to his credit and has won many national and international awards for his writing.
Bee Willey has illustrated over 20 children’s books with co-editions in Canada, Italy, Denmark, Spain, Korea, and the US. Bee illustrated the award-winning The Zoo at Night written by Michael Rosen. In 2004, she was short-listed for the prestigious Kate Greenaway Prize.
Crocodile Books, USA
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