Maestro Mouse: And the Mystery of the Missing Baton


Maestro Mouse, the world's greatest conductor, makes an unfortunate discovery when he takes the stage to lead his orchestra—his baton is missing! The children in the concert hall rush to search for it in section of the orchestra, learning about each instrument as they go along. Will they find the lost baton in time for the concert to begin?
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Maestro Mouse, the world's greatest conductor, makes an unfortunate discovery when he takes the stage to lead his orchestra—his baton is missing! The children in the concert hall rush to search for it in section of the orchestra, learning about each instrument as they go along. Will they find the lost baton in time for the concert to begin?
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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
K-Gr 1—This introduction to the orchestra struggles with a strained rhyming text and unrefined illustrations. When Maestro Mouse's baton disappears right before a performance, it's up to the children in the audience to find it. They fruitlessly search the stage, "They looked inside the French horns, too, to see what they could see./It wasn't there-and neither was it in the timpani." As the maestro thanks the little mice for their help, one boy notices the baton sticking out of the conductor's sleeve, and the performance is saved. The story has potential value for its focus on music appreciation, but forcing the text to rhyme creates distracting issues, like dropping a significant name to form a rhyme, as in the pairing of "Ludwig Van" with "mouse and man." Unfortunately, the washed-out illustrations of the mice-people are not strong enough to compensate for the ungainly language, although the illustrator's background in architecture is evident in the nicely detailed depictions of the inside and outside of the concert hall. The endnotes include useful information on the parts of an orchestra, famous composers, and online resources for further information, as well as a note about the art. The three pages of workbook-style activities for kids may not be ideal for library lending.—Marian McLeod, Darien Library, CT
Kirkus Reviews
When Maestro Mouse loses his baton, a group of young concertgoers conduct a search through all the sections of the orchestra. The Barneses, whose mice have previously explored U.S. history and the workings of our federal government, now turn their attention to Washington, D.C., culture, setting this new story in a slightly altered Kennedy Center. (The exterior is Carnegie Hall in New York City; the inside a clear representation of the Center's Concert Hall and vast corridors, though the bust of Kennedy has been replaced by one of Beethoven.) This well-meant introduction to a symphony orchestra is hampered by awkward language and unskilled illustrations. The lost-and-found story is written in rhyming fourteeners--a verse pattern that requires unnaturally lengthy lines and is difficult to write smoothly or read aloud comfortably. The conductor's facial features differ from page to page, his shirt buttons occasionally change orientation, and, on one page, he's lost his boutonniere. Section by section, mouse children, differentiated by their clothing, scurry through the orchestra seeking the baton. Usually the illustrations follow the text, but the larger stringed instruments don't appear until three spreads after their mention in verse. Scott Hennesy and Joe Lanzisero play the same premise more skillfully in The Cat's Baton Is Gone (2012). Audiences can skip this amateur hour at the National Symphony. (notes for parents and teachers, matching game, facts, a page for a written response) (Informational picture book. 6-8)
Children's Literature
Created to help celebrate the seventy-fifth anniversary of Washington's National Symphony Orchestra, this tale of a mouse conductor and his missing baton aims to introduce children to the instruments of the orchestra, the stage, the hall, and even the outside of the Kennedy Center. It is a bit of a mystery why the author-illustrator team chose to portray musicians and audience as mice. Unfortunately, these creatures are not particularly engaging; many look more like dogs than mice, and the children participating in the hunt are especially lumpy-looking. Animals can be appealing to children, but the characteristics of mice have little in common with those of musicians—unless artists are skilled or inspired enough to point them out—leaving an impression only of inappropriateness. The instruments are pictured with mice children clambering about them, while two large spreads are wasted on bland, boring views of the audience. Finding the baton up the conductor's sleeve is not an especially exciting conclusion to the hunt, or a very believable one either, after all the maestro's arm waving. Overall, both the illustrations and the rhyming couplets of the text strike a distinctly amateurish note. This may do for a performance souvenir, but parents or teachers looking for truly absorbing books about orchestras should try Lloyd Moss and Marjorie Priceman's colorful Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin (Simon, 1995), Bruce Koscielniak's Story of the Incredible Orchestra (Houghton Mifflin, 2000), or, for sheer fun, Karla Kuskin's classic The Philharmonic Gets Dressed (Harper, 1982). 2005, VSP Books, Ages 5 to 8.
—Barbara L. Talcroft
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781621570363
  • Publisher: Regnery Publishing
  • Publication date: 5/7/2013
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 834,346
  • Age range: 6 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

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