Dressed like a cowboy and wearing a "Lone Ranger" mask, Mouse comes riding into town on his stick horse and stops first at Badger's Bakery to announce his arrival and buy some of Badger's famous apricot muffins. As he checks out the town and looks for a place to live, the other animal inhabitants welcome Mouse but at the same time warn him about the scary and dangerous Big Wolf who lives on the hill. Once Mouse is settled in his new cottage, he decides it's time to "sort out" the Big Wolf situation and heads up the hill. Big Wolf jumps out of a hiding place, growling and looking fearsome but Mouse disarms him with a compliment and empathy and invites him into town to live with the rest of the animals. Apparently Big Wolf has been just as scared of the other animals as they were of him and once the misunderstanding is cleared up, they can all sit down and eat apricot muffins in harmony. The drawings are brightly colored portrayals of the stuffed animal characters, wearing miscellaneous bits of clothing, with Big Wolf's outfit apparently designed to elicit our empathies—his clothes have patches and mended tears. Endpaper illustrations show Mouse's arrival and the satisfactory conclusion of the story. Some rhyming language makes this a potentially enjoyable read aloud/read along for younger children, which could also spark conversations about making assumptions or perhaps about turning bullies into friends.
Mouse rides into town sporting a cowboy hat, boots with spurs and riding a pony on a stick. The new kid in town, he receives a warm welcome from all the neighbors, from Badger to Giraffe to Donkey. But each welcome comes with a warning: "Beware!" A big, bad bully lives on the hill, "He's huge and hairy, and wild and scary" and he will eat Mouse for sure. After unpacking and tidying up his house, fearless Mouse sets out (on his stick pony) to tame Big Wolf. His kind words take Wolf by surprise and in no time he's crying on Mouse's shoulder, "I've never had a friend before!" And down the hill they go to meet the rest of the guys. Oversized pages feature warmly colored characters that could be someone's stuffed animals, creating immediate child appeal-and that wolf is a charming goofball. The unsubtle message is that kindness and apricot muffins will melt the heart of a bully. The more useful one is that sometimes the conventional wisdom is just plain wrong. (Picture book. 3-5)