Wolfgang Amadeus Mouse ("Wolf," for short) has a big name for such a little mouse. But the name fits. His favorite pastime is listening to Mrs. Honeybee, the lady of the house, play the piano. If only he could sing along to the music! One day, Wolf decides to try and to his surprise, out of his mouth comes a perfect melody.
It's not long before Wolf is singing everything from "Three Blind Mice" to Chopin to the Beatles, all to Mrs. Honeybee's accompaniment. Then an accident leaves Mrs. Honeybee in danger, and it's up to Wolf to save her... the only way he knows how.
|Publisher:||Random House Children's Books|
|Product dimensions:||5.13(w) x 7.63(h) x 0.22(d)|
|Age Range:||6 - 9 Years|
About the Author
Dick King-Smith was born and raised in Gloucestershire, England. After twenty years as a farmer, he turned to teaching and then to writing children’s books that have received critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. Among his well-loved novels are Babe: The Gallant Pig, Harry’s Mad, Martin’s Mice, Ace: The Very Important Pig, The Robber Boy, The Invisible Dog, Three Terrible Trins, Harriet’s Hare, The Stray, A Mouse Called Wolf, and Mr. Ape. Mr. King-Smith passed in away in 2011, but his stories live on.
Read an Excerpt
Wolfgang Amadeus Mouse was the youngest of thirteen children. He was also the smallest. His mother had given the other twelve mouse pups quite ordinary names, like Bill or Jane.
But when she looked at her last-born and saw that he was only half as big as his brothers and sisters, she said to herself, “He should have an important-sounding name to make up for his lack of size. On second thought, he should have two important-sounding names. But what should they be?”
Now, it so happened that this particular mother mouse lived in a house belonging to a lady who played the piano. It was a grand piano that stood close to a living room wall, so that its left front leg almost touched the molding. In the molding, hidden from the human eye by the piano leg, was a hole. In this hole lived the mother mouse (whose name was Mary).
One night, when the lady of the house had played a final tune on the piano and gone to bed, Mary came out of the hole in the molding. She ran up the left front leg and onto the keyboard, which as usual had been left open, and bounced along over the keys. But even though she was heavy with young, she was still much too light to make any noise.
Then she saw that a single sheet of music had been left lying on the piano stool.
“Just what I need to start making my nest with,” said Mary Mouse, and by pushing at the sheet (a piece of piano music by Mozart) with her little forepaws, she managed to send it sailing down to the floor. Because it was too big to drag through the mousehole, she cut it up into smaller pieces with her sharp teeth and pulled the pieces inside.
Over the next day Mary chewed these small pieces of paper into shreds, and with them built herself a most comfortable nest. In this, in due course, she gave birth to her thirteen pups. Only when they were several days old, and she had made the decision that the thirteenth and littlest must have not one but two names, and important-sounding names at that, did something catch her eye.
It was a scrap of the sheet music that had somehow escaped being chewed up, and it had some writing on it.
Mary got out of her nest to inspect it. It said:
Wolfgang Amadeus Mo
Mary gave a squeak of delight. “Perfect!” she cried to all the blind and naked pups. Then she softly whispered in the littlest one’s ear, “This name was specially designed for you, dear. I feel it in my bones. Why, to be sure, the last three letters of the third word are missing, but there’s no doubt what they were. The smallest you may be, but these names will make you the greatest, Wolfgang Amadeus Mouse!”
A few weeks later the mouse pups began to venture out of the hole in the molding at night. Before long they learned to climb up the left front leg of the grand piano, and they played on the keyboard.
In particular they liked to race along the keys. Sometimes they were flat races along the fifty-two white keys from bass to treble, and sometimes they were hurdle races over the thirty-six raised black keys. Some nights one pup would win, some nights another, but Wolfgang Amadeus, being so small, was always last. He found the hurdles difficult to get over, and quite often in the flat races the rush of his bigger brothers and sisters running past him would cause him to lose his footing on the slippery white keys and fall to the floor.
Luckily the room was thickly carpeted, and he would fall very lightly, usually landing on his feet without harm. But the others of course just laughed as they peered over the edge and looked down on him.
They were not very nice to him, partly on account of his lack of size, partly because it seemed to them that he was his mother’s favorite, but mostly on account of his long name. All the time they heard Mary Mouse’s anxious voice crying, “Wolfgang Amadeus! Wolfgang Amadeus! Where are you? Are you all right? Did you hurt yourself falling off the piano, Wolfgang Amadeus?”
At first Bill and Jane and Tom and Ann and all the rest teased their little brother--out of their mother’s earshot--about his strange long name, and they even made up a rhyme that they squeaked at him all together (especially every time he fell off the piano).
Who is small and meek and mild?
Who is Mommy’s favorite child?
Who’s no bigger than a louse?
Wolfgang Amadeus Mouse!
All this made Wolfgang Amadeus unhappy, and one day he said to his mother, “Mommy, why do I have to have such a long name when all the others have short ones?”
“Because yours is an important-sounding one, Wolfgang Amadeus,” replied Mary, “and you are going to grow up to be an important mouse. You cannot have a short name.”
But in the end he did, given to him by the other pups.
They had been playing another one of their favorite games, which took place on top of the grand piano. They would line up on the curved edge at the back of the instrument, and then each one in turn would see how far he or she could slide across its highly polished gleaming surface.
One after another they would run and then slide on their fat furry little tummies. The object was to reach the straight front edge of the piano top without falling over and down onto the keyboard below. Sometimes they did fall over, but it was only a short drop and they would soon scramble back up again, squeaking with laughter.
One night when they were playing this sliding game, one of them called out to another, “Look at that Wolfgang Amadeus! He’s hopeless! He never gets more than halfway across. He can’t get up enough speed. His legs aren’t long enough!”
“There’s only one thing long about him,” said the other, “and that’s his name. I can’t get my tongue around it. It’s too much of a mouseful.”
“Well, okay. Let’s shorten it.”
“What shall we call him, then?”
“Wolf?” cried the other voices. “What a joke! Tee-hee-hee! A mouse called Wolf!” And they all giggled at their little brother, not caring, as usual, whether his feelings were hurt.
They could not know that in fact he was delighted.
Wolf was even more delighted when his twelve brothers and sisters left home.
For some time Mary Mouse’s milk supply had been dwindling, and the pups had become used to accompanying their mother on her nightly scrounge. Around the house they would go in the wee hours of the night, especially to the kitchen and the dining room. They traveled by a system of mouseways, searching the floors and tables and cupboards for anything edible.
Soon the bolder ones stopped coming back to the hole by the piano leg, and before long it was only Wolf who returned home. He felt safer with his mother, and she was pleased to have him still at home with her. He in turn was pleased that she had become used to hearing the others use his shortened name, and now did so too, only addressing him as “Wolfgang Amadeus” if she was angry with him (which was seldom).
All through the first weeks of his life Wolf had been used to hearing the sound of the piano, for the lady of the house played every day.
The other pups grumbled at the music.
“What a racket!” they muttered to one another. “How are we expected to get a good day’s sleep?”
But Wolf grew to like the noise very much, and now, alone (Mary slept through it), he began to listen carefully to the melodies.
The lady usually played her piano twice each day--in the late morning and then again in the early evening. The evening recital was the one Wolf enjoyed most, because by then he was rested and awake. He began sitting in the mouth of the hole by the piano leg and listening to the music above his head.
He found that even when the playing stopped, he could still hear a particular tune inside his head, and he would hum it to himself--in a kind of silent hum--as he followed his mother about on the night’s foraging.
“I wish mice could sing,” he said to his mother, “instead of just squeaking. I’d love to be able to sing.”
Mary had not had a very successful scavenge and was tired and hungry.
“Mice . . . sing?” she cried. “Don’t be such a stupid child, Wolfgang Amadeus.”
Now she’s annoyed at me, thought Wolf, and he said no more on the subject. But he couldn’t stop thinking about it. The next day, in fact, he actually dreamed that he was singing.
When he awoke, it was early afternoon, a time, had he known it, when the lady of the house always had a little nap after her lunch. Mary Mouse was also fast asleep, so Wolf crept quietly out of the mousehole, scaled the piano leg, walked along the keyboard, and sat down on middle C, just below the elegant lettering that said:
Steinway & Sons
He sat there thinking of a particular tune. It was a favorite of the lady’s and she often played it, so he knew it by heart.
If only mice could sing, thought Wolf. Now is the perfect moment, here is the perfect place, and this is the perfect song for me. He sighed.
“Ah, me!” he said. “Perhaps, though I can’t sing it, I could try to squeak it.” And he threw back his head and opened his mouth.
Then, to his total surprise, out of that little mouth came a high clear lovely little voice that sang every note of the melody to perfection. Wolf was singing like a bird, except no songbird in the world could have sung as beautifully.
“La-la‑la!” he caroled, for of course he knew no words to the music. But it did not matter, for by chance the piece he had chosen was from a book of folk tunes by Mendelssohn called Songs Without Words.
Long and loudly sang Wolf, repeating the melody again and again in the ecstasy of discovery that to say mice could not sing was not entirely true. One mouse could! But before he finally fell silent, others in the house were awakened by his long, loud solo.
Mary came out of a deep sleep and her hole and climbed the piano leg. Her mouth fell open in utter amazement, but no sound came from it.
In various holes in various rooms Wolf’s brothers and sisters grumbled at this strange noise that had awakened them.
Snoozing on her bed, the lady of the house thought she heard, somewhere downstairs, a familiar tune by Mendelssohn, decided she’d been dreaming, and went back to sleep.
But there was one pair of ears in the kitchen that caught the sound of Wolf’s singing and aroused in their owner a certain curiosity. The cat jumped out of its bed beside the stove and stretched, spreading its claws wide before padding silently toward the living room.
“Beautiful, Wolf. That was quite beautiful!” cried Mary as the song came to an end. “Oh! To think that I am the mother of the world’s first singing mouse!” And she ran along the keyboard to nuzzle her child affectionately.
“You’re a genius!” she said. “Sing me something else, like a good boy.”
“What would you like, Mommy?” asked Wolf, but his mother did not answer.
Instead she suddenly crouched on the keys, still as a stone, her hair on end, her eyes bulging in obvious terror as she stared over the singer’s shoulder.
Looking quickly behind him, Wolf saw the cat creeping across the carpet, head raised, yellow eyes staring up at the two mice on the piano. It gathered itself to spring.
Wolf saw immediately that jumping down to the floor would be suicide. The cat would catch one or both of them before they had time to reach the safety of their hole.
“Quick, Mommy!” he cried. “Follow me!” And with a mighty effort he scrabbled his way up over steinway & sons and into the body of the grand piano, Mary hard on his heels.
It is doubtful that the mice might somehow have been able to escape the cat in the network of taut wires that formed the piano strings, but Fate now took a hand in the proceedings.
The cat’s leap took it up onto the right-hand edge of the piano, but its landing was an unfortunate one, for the cat hit the prop stick (which held the top of the instrument open) and dislodged it. Supported no longer, the heavy top began to fall, and instantly, with that lightning reaction cats have, the attacker wheeled to jump back down again.
But the cat was not quite quick enough.
The top of the piano fell shut, not with quite the loud crash you would have expected, but with a slightly more muffled noise. Caught between the top and the body of the piano was an inch of ginger tail. Then the force of the fall of the piano top made it bounce just a fraction. The cat fell free and rushed from the living room at full speed.
In the days that followed, the squashed and bruised tip of the cat’s tail healed, but in its mind the cat carried the scars of that encounter for the rest of its life.
Far from realizing that what had happened was its own fault, the cat felt sure, then and forever, that it was the mice who had engineered the whole thing.
It was the mice who woke me up with their noise, the cat thought, who lured me into the room, who jumped inside the piano knowing that I would follow. It was the mice who somehow sprang that trap that caught my tail in its jaws.
Little did Mary and Wolf realize, but from that moment on the cat would never again pose a threat to them. From then on, unknown to them, they were to live in a house with a cat that was forevermore scared stiff of mice.
Now all they knew was that they were prisoners.
Fearfully they explored the blackness of the inside of the closed piano, looking for some way out but finding none. All the time, as they crisscrossed the tightly stretched strings, their feet made a discordant jingle of tiny sounds, a little tinkling sonata for two mice and piano.
Excerpted from "A Mouse Called Wolf"
Copyright © 1999 Dick King-Smith.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Children's Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
We read this book aloud to Magda (she’s two-and-a-half), finishing around June 2, 2012. I asked Magda questions about it on June 5, 2012. Here’s what she had to say: What book is this? A Mouse Called Wolf Who wrote it? Wolfgang Amadeus! Haha. No, that’s the character in the book. Who’s the author of the book? Dick King-Smith Was it a good book? Yeah, we read it all! What is the book about? It’s about Wolf. Who’s Wolf? A animal. Is it a wolf? No, something else. What? A boy! A mouse who’s a boy. What is so special about the mouse called Wolf? I don’t know. What is he doing on the cover? He’s singing! Can all mice sing? Uh, I don’t know. Can they? I don’t think so. What kinds of songs does Wolf sing? Wolfgang Amadeus. Yes, Wolfgang Amadeus. Do you remember any of the songs? Uh, Three Blind Mice and another one, I can’t remember. Where does Wolf live? In his house. Who else lives there? Her mom and...who else? Is there a person? Oh, yes, Mrs. Honeybee! Wolf is sort of her pet mouse. Would you like a pet mouse? Uh...do pet mouse...? Uh, yes! I’m going to carry the pet mouse and then I can handle a dog!
Wolf herd a groan so he went upstairs. He saw Miss Honeybee was blinded and had fell over a stool. Miss Honeybee told Wolf to call 911, but somehow Wolf knew that she was in troble. Wolf decided to go to the window so he could sing so people could help her. He sang as loud as he could a police man stoped.The piloce man knocked on the door and asked Miss Honeybee if she was ok. She said she was hurt. So the police man called the amblieons. If you want to hear the rest of the story buy it or look at it at Barnes & Noble. This book rocks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
My favorite character in this book was wolf, because he kept on believing he could do anything and my favorite animal is a wolf. I liked the part of the book when Wolf one a piano race for the first time.I also liked the part when Wolf found a peace of cheese and it was the cat¿s food.
It was a really good book because the mouse 'Wolf' started to sing and Mrs.Honeybee played the piano while Wolf was singing.
My child was quite taken with this book because she enjoys animals. Music Teachers would appreciate this book also. The story involves a music teacher who likes to sing and play the piano, and visit with a mouse.
this was a great short funny book filled with adventure.
Wolf is a singing mouse.He is the littest mouse in his family and his mother is Mary. It is a sweet story.He makes friends with a lady.