Manuelo the Playing Mantis

Our rating: ****

Manuelo the mantis loves music, and he spends a lot of his time listening to outdoor concerts. One day, he decides to try making an instrument that he could play. Try as he might, nothing works out, and he gets very discouraged. Then, a small spider offers her help, and together they try one last time.

I’d never heard of this book until just recently, but I’m glad I found it. It may not be one of Don Freeman’s most popular books, but the story is unique and sweet. I definitely encourage everyone who enjoys this author’s books (or anyone who enjoys music) to look into Manuelo the Playing Mantis.

Norman the Doorman

Our rating: *****

Norman, an artistically-minded mouse, loves to show his friends all the treasures hidden in the basement of the Majestic Museum of Art. One day Norman decides to make a sculpture out of the mousetraps that the sharp-eyed guard leaves. He enters the “mouse on the flying trapezee” into a sculpture contest the museum is having, and much to his surprise, wins first place!

I love this book. It ends so well, and Norman is such a decent little mouse—and his wire sculpture is really fun.

Mop Top

Our rating: ***½

Young “Moppy” doesn’t want to get a haircut, but is sent against his will to the barber shop by himself. What will convince him to get a haircut?

Mop Top is yet another delightful book from Don Freeman. Everything works out well, with a quite funny turn-around before the end. Some picture books are more fun for the adults reading aloud than for children, but here, everything is equally enjoyable by all ages. The pictures are fun, too.

Will’s Quill

Our rating: ****

Willoughby Waddle is a goose who lives in old England. One day, tired of doing the same things all the time, he decides to go to London. After having several bad, sometimes frightening, experiences, Willowby meets up with a kind man. Later that night, Willoughby is able to repay the man for his kindness in a way only a goose could.

Will’s Quill is a great book to enjoy on your own or to read aloud to someone else. I think that my favorite part has to be when Willoughby tries to “rescue” his friend. The results are quite funny. If you enjoy Will’s Quill, you should check out some of Don Freeman’s other books, several of which are still in print.