Theodore and the Talking Mushroom

Overview

Theodore, a little mouse, lives with a lizard that can grow a new tail, a frog that can swim underwater, and a turtle that can close up like a box. But Theodore has no special talents of his own. When he discovers a mushroom that says “Quirp,” Theodore tells his friends that this is the only talking mushroom in the world, and that “quirp” means that he should be venerated above all animals. The word spreads, and Theodore is bestowed with a crown—until the truth comes out. When his friends learn that they’ve been ...

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Overview

Theodore, a little mouse, lives with a lizard that can grow a new tail, a frog that can swim underwater, and a turtle that can close up like a box. But Theodore has no special talents of his own. When he discovers a mushroom that says “Quirp,” Theodore tells his friends that this is the only talking mushroom in the world, and that “quirp” means that he should be venerated above all animals. The word spreads, and Theodore is bestowed with a crown—until the truth comes out. When his friends learn that they’ve been deceived, Theodore discovers that he does have a special talent—running away very fast!

This tall tale provides an excellent starting-point for discussions of honesty.

The blue mushroom says only one strange word but Theodore the mouse convinces his friends that it means nice things about him.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
Each of Theodore's friends has a special talent. Frog can swim under water, lizard can grow a new tail when necessary, and turtle can "close like a box." When they ask Theodore, a little mouse, what his special talent is he tells them he can run. The others laugh at him. Then, while out walking, Theodore comes upon a blue mushroom. He hears a sound coming from it. He returns to his friends and tells them he has found a one-of-a-kind talking mushroom. They are so in awe of his find that they make him a crown. Other animals bring him flowers, and before long "he [is] venerated above all other animals." That is, until the animals find an entire field of blue mushrooms with the same sound coming from them. Then, the animals call him a fraud and a liar. Theodore runs away, never to be seen again. Lionni's message about lying and the importance of just being yourself comes through loud and clear in this original fable first published in 1971. Lionni's collage illustrations are full of interesting patterns. Theodore and the other animals are animated in both their expressions and body language. This will find an audience in character building classes. Parents, too, will find it helpful when broaching the topic of honesty with their children. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
From the Publisher
“A fresh and relevant fable about peer pressure, self-esteem, and the consequences of telling a whopper. The droll sponge-textured collage artwork, vocabulary-stretching language, and subtly expressed themes make this a great choice for more sophisticated picture book readers.” —School Library Journal
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375945519
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 3/10/2009
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 3 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.80 (w) x 10.80 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Leo Lionni, an internationally known designer, illustrator, and graphic artist, was born in Holland and lived in Italy until he came to the United States in 1939. He was the recipient of the 1984 American Institute of Graphic Arts Gold Medal and was honored posthumously in 2007 with the Society of Illustrators’ Lifetime Achievement Award. His picture books are distinguished by their enduring moral themes, graphic simplicity and brilliant use of collage, and include four Caldecott Honor Books: Inch by Inch, Frederick, Swimmy, and Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse. Hailed as “a master of the simple fable” by the Chicago Tribune, he died in 1999 at the age of 89.

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