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The Children's Bookshelf: MINA - April 25, 2022


MINA written and illustrated by Matthew Forsythe is a well told story about a bright little girl mouse named Mina and her well- meaning father who has a problem naming things correctly. He often brings what he calls “a surprise” from the outside world right into their safe home in the hollow of a tree.

In this case, he unfortunately thinks a prowling cat is just a squirrel looking for a home. Mina is on guard when her father invites the cat into their home and tells her everything will be just fine. “I don’t know,’’ she says nervously. Then her father brings two more of these creatures into the house. But, when the animal doctor says these squirrels are indeed cats, they all make a dash for their lives. Young readers will enjoy the wild “cat and mouse” romp.

The sixty-eight pages of this picture book, done in rich shades of green and brown and skillfully rendered in colored pencil, watercolor and gouache are packed full of details that will capture the imagination of every young reader. The picture of Mina’s bedroom at night with a sneaky cat looking on, the mad dash across the pond with three cats in pursuit and Mina’s declaration to the cats from the top of a tree trunk to STOP! are all visually memorable. The end papers show tiny drawings of Mina as she appears in the story carrying a stack of books, reading a book and sleeping with a book on her tummy.

MINA written and illustrated by Matthew Forsythe will capture the imagination of children 4-8 years of age with every page turned (A

Paula Wiseman Book, Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2022).

The Children’s Bookshelf is a production of WCMU. Links to the podcast and the Activity Questions can be found at Children’s Bookshelf dot org.

Activity Questions for MINA

Turn to the illustration that shows Mina’s father playing music with a group of friends. Study the picture. What animal do they each represent? What instrument are they each playing? What song do you think they are playing? If you could join them, what instrument would you like to play that would add to the music? Now try it out---- sing that song loud and clear while pretending to play your musical instrument.

MINA loves books. Find the nine illustrations of her reading books throughout this story? Look carefully. What insects also liked books and took her books with them when they left Mina’s house? How did one of these insects make it up to her for stealing Mina’s books?

Where do you keep your books---on a bookshelf, in a drawer, on top of a dresser or in a pile near your bed? Look through them and make a list of your very favorite books for safe keeping. For each book make sure you include the title, the author and the illustrator as well as a paragraph that tells why it is one of your favorites.

Sue Ann Martin is professor emerita of Communication and Dramatic Arts and the founding and past Dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts at Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. She first became interested in children’s literature when she wrote her PhD thesis on the oral characteristics of the Caldecott Award-winning children’s books. Her PhD is in Speech and Interpretation with a cognate in Early Childhood Education. She went on to review children’s books for the Detroit Free Press, write three popular resource books for teachers regarding children’s books and the creative process. She also reviewed newly-published books for Arts Almanac specials on WCMU Public Radio. Her 2002 children’s books special for WCMU won a Merit Award in Special Interest Programming from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.