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Ten Old Men and a Mouse

Overview

The synagogue was once a busy, bustling place, but now only ten old men come to tend it and pray each day. Then one day, a little scritch-scratch betrays the first new member in years: a tiny mouse who has taken up residence among the holy books. Of course, a trap must be set, but who will do it? Al volunteers, but in the morning the mouse is still there, and is just a little more appealing than he was before.

Day after day, the men become more engaged, until the mouse has a ...

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Overview

The synagogue was once a busy, bustling place, but now only ten old men come to tend it and pray each day. Then one day, a little scritch-scratch betrays the first new member in years: a tiny mouse who has taken up residence among the holy books. Of course, a trap must be set, but who will do it? Al volunteers, but in the morning the mouse is still there, and is just a little more appealing than he was before.

Day after day, the men become more engaged, until the mouse has a bed, pictures on the wall, and a little carpet, not to mention all the treats the men bring. Then comes the biggest surprise of all. He is a she, giving the ten old men reason to celebrate with peach schnapps — and to plan a trip to the country where they find the perfect place to release their numerous charges. Back at the synagogue, fall turns to winter. The ten old men miss their mice until a little scritch-scratch….

Full of gentle humor and witty truisms, Cary Fagan’s Ten Old Men and a Mouse will delight both the young and old. Illustrations by Gary Clement heighten the fun.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“…immediately enjoyable with its familiar structure, subtle humour, and gentle pace. Rendered in warm water-colours, [the art] captures all the humour and sentimentality of the story, but adds a tiny element of slapstick with goofy expressions and bumbling gestures. In its exploration of the theme of little things eliciting big changes, Ten Old Men and a Mouse teaches a gentle lesson about compassion, friendship, and the passing stages of life… sure to make for many satisfied readers.”
Quill & Quire

Praise for The Fortress of Kaspar Snit:

“…Fagan has a gift for the rhythm of story, and his sly humor is always unexpected and entertaining.”
The Toronto Star

Praise for Daughter of the Great Zandini:

“Fagan proves himself a wonderful writer with a rare comic gift.”
Publishers Weekly

“… a wonderfully whimsical and … heart-warming, story….”
Times-Colonist

Publishers Weekly

Like the perfect brisket, this book offers a deeply satisfying balance of sweet and sour that you don't have to be Jewish to enjoy. Membership at the venerable and once-bustling synagogue has dwindled down to 10 old men: Max, Nat, Bud, Al, Mose, Herm, Lem, Tov, Gabe, and the always-late Saul. So when this geriatric crew discovers a starving mouse hiding among the prayer books, they quickly abandon plans to trap it. After all, as Saul wryly notes, "He's the first new member we've had in thirty-five years." The story that unfolds endearingly affirms a distinctly Jewish worldview ("There isn't a cat or dog as smart as our mouse," says Herm proudly), while at the same time empathetically acknowledges that old age is not a day at the beach. "You'll hear from your kids again," Saul tells the mouse, after its true gender is revealed by the arrival of a large brood, which disbands some months later. "You know when? When they need something." Clement's (Just Stay Put) editorial-style pen-and-inks with watercolor wash clearly spring from great affection; he knits the 10 old men into a tight, funny ensemble worthy of a Neil Simon comedy, embracing the story's slapstick while eschewing caricature. Fagan's (The Market Wedding) dialogue-driven text is great fun to read out loud—full of kvetching, kibitzing and kvelling, yet written with a broad audience in mind. Ages 4-7. (Mar.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Keri Collins
Every day ten men go to the synagogue to pray, morning and evening. Although their synagogue is not large or fancy, and many people have moved away from the old neighborhood, the ten old men keep the synagogue going day in and day out. Each day is the same, until the day they hear a noise in the cupboard. A rustle. A squeak. A mouse! After a failed attempt at trapping the mouse, the men adopt it as the synagogue's newest member in thirty-five years. They decorate the cupboard, supply the mouse with food and water, and even give the tiny rodent a bed, a table, and a rug. In fact, they turn the cupboard into such a nice home, they are surprised one day to find the cupboard doors closed and the mouse uncharacteristically antisocial. Eventually, the chorus of squeaks the old men hear reveals their mouse is a female who likes the cupboard so much she has decided to raise her family there. Soon the synagogue is overrun with mice. What will the ten men do? This unconventional and humorous story about the bonds of friendship—and how friends help us navigate the ups and downs of life—has the feel of a classic folk tale but with a modern twist. Gary Clement's illustrations keep the story moving by giving each old man a distinct look and playing up the mouse's personality. As an added bonus, the two-sided dust jacket reverses into a poster.
School Library Journal

K-Gr 2
Ten old men have seen their synagogue's membership dwindle as families moved out of the old neighborhood. Now they keep one another's spirits up during their daily prayers. Life becomes a little cheerier when an intelligent mouse moves into the shul, bringing out the men's nurturing instincts. The birth of baby mice, however, is too much, and they sadly relocate the family to the countryside. Loneliness sets in again—until the mother mouse, now an empty nester like her friends, returns home to the synagogue. The men tell her not to worry: "You'll hear from your kids again. You know when? When they need something." Fagan, whose storytelling is usually so vibrant, has written an odd, sad little story with an unclear message. Neither the mouse nor the old men learn or grow or change from the experience. The only lesson seems to be that old age is so lonely that the adoption of a pet is cause for great celebration. The Jewish content does not contribute to the story in any significant way. The 10 men form a minyan (the quorum required for Jewish public worship) but this is never mentioned in the text, leaving readers with too many characters and not enough fleshing out. They never learn what synagogue attendance means to the men or what keeps them coming back when nobody else does. The cartoon-style ink-and-watercolor illustrations are colorful, but the pathetic nature of the characters' lives is reflected in scene after scene of unpleasantly anxious faces. A surprisingly lackluster effort.
—Heidi EstrinCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780887767166
  • Publisher: Tundra
  • Publication date: 3/13/2007
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 6 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.32 (w) x 10.33 (h) x 0.39 (d)

Meet the Author

A native of Toronto, Cary Fagan is an award-winning children’s author, a writer of adult novels, and editor and contributor to a number of magazines and newspapers, including the Globe and Mail, The Montreal Gazette, and Books in Canada. His work has won the City of Toronto Book Award and the Jewish Book Committee Prize for Fiction. Cary has written several picture books for Tundra. Including Gogol’s Coat, and The Market Wedding. Daughter of the Great Zandini, winner of a Mr. Christie Silver Medal, was Cary’s first novel for children. The Fortress of Kaspar Snit, was his second. He also wrote Beyond the Dance, a biography of the National Ballet of Canada’s prima ballerina, Chan Hon Goh which was shortlisted for the Norma Fleck Award for children’s non-fiction. Cary lives in Toronto with his two children.

Gary Clement has been the political cartoonist for Canada’s National Post since its launch in 1998. As a freelance illustrator, his work has appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Time, and Mother Jones. His illustrations have received numerous awards in Canada and in the United States. He is the author and illustrator of two children’s books, Just Stay Put and The Great Poochini, which received the Governor General’s Award for illustration in 1999. He also paints, draws, and exhibits. Gary Clement lives in Toronto with his wife, Gill, their two children, and a couple of animals.

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