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Once a Mouse...

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  2,205 Ratings  ·  257 Reviews
"No one shall tell me that I was once a mouse!" roars the tiger. But an old hermit, mighty at magic, does tell him; for it was he who first changed the tiger from a wretched little mouse to a stout cat, to a big dog, and finally, to his proud and royal self. Youngest readers will take special delight in seeing these changes take place in Marcia Brown's dramatic picturing o ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published April 1st 1972 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers (first published 1961)
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Jan 14, 2015 Manybooks rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: children (anyone) interested in folklore adaptations
Although I generally appreciate and enjoy both the narrative and the illustrations of Once a Mouse (the message of pride coming before a fall, and the concept that ungratefulness will often have not so nice consequences), I do find especially the visual depictions of the hermit rather creepy (especially his face). This is probably very much a personal preference, but every time I look at the hermit, I get shivers down my back (and I don't get those same shivers when I look at the illustrations o ...more
I see how this story is a fable warning against boastfulness and teaching gratefulness. But I immediately focused on the philosophical slant: "One day a hermit sat thinking about big and little--" and then at the end "And the hermit sat thinking about big -- and little..."

Did the hermit come to any conclusions? Did he learn any lessons? This is what I think:
The hermit was sitting around thinking about size and why certain things are smaller and certain things are bigger. "Suddenly, he saw a mou
Book Concierge
This is a retelling of a traditional Indian fable. A hermit with magical powers tries to help a tiny mouse. But as the mouse is transformed into ever larger animals, he loses his timidity and his sense of gratitude for having been rescued.

It’s an interesting fable, and I think the story has appeal for children (and their parents), much as Aesop’s fables do. However, I am not a great fan of Brown’s illustrations in this case.

Her woodcuts are a different technique from the beautiful illustrations
Regarding Once a Mouse...; I liked, but didn't love, it. I did wonder about the word choices for "hermit" and his use of "magic" -- but Brown does seem to have spent a great deal of time studying her subjects and I suspect she meant to be culturally accurate and I appreciate that my cover flap mentions the source material as a tale from the The Hitopadesa (which I now want to read!) The illustrations, though not in a style I prefer, are beautiful and engaging. I especially love the expression on ...more
“Once A Mouse” is an old Indian fable retold by Marcia Brown and it is about how a kind and wise hermit tries to help his mouse friend survive the perils of the forest by transforming it into larger animals each time it is threatened. Since the sentences are broken up on every page, this book may be a bit difficult to read for the smaller children, but is still entertaining to read nonetheless.

Marcia Brown does an excellent job with both writing and illustrating this ancient fable from India. Ma
Dec 31, 2009 Dolly rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is a wonderful tale from India, about being grateful and remembering your humble beginnings in life and those who have helped you along the way.

The illustrations are gorgeous woodcuts, with mostly muted tones and a splash of red here and there. Our girls liked the tale, but I'm not sure they took any deep meaning from it.

This book was selected as one of the books for the January 2015 - Quarterly Caldecott discussion at the Picture-Book Club in the Children's Books Group here at Goodreads.
Sep 17, 2014 Hillary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english-355
I enjoyed this book not only because of the beautiful artwork, but because of the moral of the story. I feel that children who read (or are read) this book will be able to not only identify with the hermit, but also see themselves in the mouse. It would be an excellent teaching tool for teaching about greed/gratitude. For a child's whole life they are cared for and gifted- but what happens when that goes to far? This has a sweet but matter of fact way of not only showing what happens when we are ...more
Jun 24, 2013 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can definitely see why this book would be a Caldecott award winner. Once a Mouse is the story about a hermit who decides to help out a mouse who is getting ready to be attacked. The hermit magically turns the mouse into a cat. Later the cat gets threatened, so the hermit again changes him into something bigger. This continues few times until the mouse is a tiger. The tiger is not only not threatened by other animals, he is very boastful around them. He is also very ungrateful to the hermit for ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Linda Lipko
Well deserving of a Caldecott medal, the lovely wood cut illustrations tell a tale equal in beauty. Based on an Indian fable, a hermit meditates on the subject of big and little. Fate brings to him a small mouse about to be devoured by a crow. Rescuing the tiny mouse, he also feeds and nourishes it. Then, a cat creeps up to consume the mouse, and the hermit magically changed the mouse into a larger cat.

Now a cat, he is vulnerable to dogs who howl and scare. And, another morphing occurs when the
Book summary: This is an award-winning book. This book is about big and little. It is about a mouse that is rescued, then feared by a cat turned into a cat by the powers of the magic man, then feared by a dog then turned into a dog, then feared by a tiger then turned into a tiger. The tiger was ungrateful so the man turned him back into a mouse and ended the book with thinking about big and little.
Grade level: K-4
Appropriate classroom use: This could be viewed as a lesson to be grateful for the
Debbie Reiber

Once A Mouse … by Marcia Brown is a fable or folktale from ancient India. It won The Caldecott Medal in 1962. The age group this book is intended for is nursery to primary. The book is about a hermit that saved a mouse from a crow, and every time another animal came to threaten the mouse, the hermit changed the mouse into a mightier animal until he was the mightiest tiger.
I like the moral of the story and the illustrations fit the story well. I’m not usually fond of the muted colors, but it work
Jen Rothmeyer
May 14, 2014 Jen Rothmeyer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: homeschool-read
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The story of a man who is contemplating big and little, when he sees a mouse almost get eaten by a crow. He saves the mouse, and then to continue protecting it, he keeps changing it into different animals, until it ends up as a tiger. Once the mouse is a tiger, however, he forgets all the good that had been done for him and becomes arrogant. The old man decides to change him back into a mouse again.

One of the things that I liked most about this simple little story, was how each page left you in
Lush, colorful woodcuts make this picture book a visual treat to accompany its excellent message and simple text. A hermit's meditation is interrupted by a mouse whose life is threatened by a crow. He saves the mouse and befriends it, and even uses magic to change it into a cat, a dog, and a tiger as other animals frighten it. Eventually, the mouse becomes too arrogant and even plans to attack the hermit who sends him back to his original form. That foolish mouse should have quit while he was ah ...more
The woodcut illustrations here are absolutely marvelous, full of colorful and imaginative detail. The story is based upon an ancient Indian tale, about a meditative hermit who befriends a lowly mouse by changing him into a mighty tiger. The mouse/tiger is an ungrateful pet however and is returned to his fate as a mouse and made to fend for himself once more. What really sets this book above others is Marcia Brown's ingenious and lovely woodcut pictures which are a delight to look at. Quite a spl ...more
I was quite impressed with the illustrations in this fable...the illustrations were cut in wood. The animals, particularly the tiger and the cat, were very expressive and did a wonderful job of conveying emotion. An older man, called the hermit, sees a mouse in trouble and rescues it. Then he uses magic to Change the mouse into a cat, a dog and then a tiger. But despite the man's help and protection, the tiger becomes quite proud and ungrateful. Lesson taught to be grateful.
Feb 29, 2012 Beverly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an interesting Indian fable about the dangers of pride. The writing is clear and straight-forward, and short enough to share with pre-school or early elementary children. The woodcuts themselves are lovely and energetic, but I was not impressed by the dull reds and ambers that were selected for the pictures.
Jun 27, 2014 SamZ rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: caldecott
1962 Caldecott Winner. Favorite Illustration: The first page with the hermit sitting under the tree.
I liked this story about humility and gratitude, but it fell just a little flat for me. I did really like the detail in the wood cut illustration, though, and I felt that they supported the origin of the story well.
Sep 22, 2012 Kelly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kidslit-645
Illustrated by the author using woodcuts and watercolor. Winner of the 1962 Caldecott Medal. I liked the story and the illustrations but what I really liked was the rhythm created by the illustration and page breaks. It was "natural" how the book was meant to be read. Additionally, the illustrations were quite simple but were able to portray emotion very well.
Sep 18, 2008 ABC rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: preschoolers
This is a fable from India. It has spectacular pictures, though I'm not sure all kids would like them. However, it did win the Caldecott medal for them.
Kelli Stonebreaker
This story is an indian fable about a hermit who saw a mouse that was about to be attacked by a crow so he turned the crow into a cat. He saved the mouse's life and turns it into a cat, dog, and tiger whenever it was being bothered. The mouse grew very confident because he was a tiger and no longer a mouse that he planned to attack the hermit. The hermit turned him back into the small mouse he once was. This book has the underlying message to not forget where you came from but I don't think I wo ...more
Dawn Laws
This book is an Ancient India fable about a hermit that saved a mouse from being eaten by a crow. The hermit cared for the mouse and the mouse got magic powers and transformed all the way up to a tiger. The now tiger forgot where he came from as a mouse and was arrogant. The hermit ordered him back where he came from and was transformed back into a mouse.

I rated this book 5/5 because it teaches a life lesson of never forget where you came from.
Jessica Serrano
May 07, 2017 Jessica Serrano rated it liked it
Once a Mouse is a moral story about a Hermit who saves a mouse by changing him into several animals. He eventually turns him to a tiger, and he becomes very arrogant. The hermit is disappointed by the tigers behavior, and tells the tiger to go back to the woods and turn into a mouse again. The moral of the story is gratitude and to remain humble. The storyline is good, the illustrations were bland.
Feb 14, 2017 Susan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: storybook, 2017
A supposed wise man has the hubris to take over a mouse's life and change it to ever-increasingly larger animals but then turns around and accuses the once-mouse of being arrogant. Hmm...

Worse, the take away message seems to be one of 'I know better than you so you must do as I say or I will reject you and abandon you'. Ugh!

I gave two stars instead of one only because I liked the illustrations.
Sam McKillop
1. There are no awards for this book.
2. This story is appropriate for all ages.
3. There was a hermit with magic who saw a mouse about to be attacked by a crow so he took the mouse in as his own pet. A cat appeared and wanted to eat the mouse so the hermit turned the mouse into a bigger cat. Then a dog appeared and wanted to attack the cat so the hermit turned the cat into a bigger dog. Then a tiger appeared and attacked the dog, so the hermit turned the dog into royal tiger. The tiger then pranc
Great illustrations combine with a wonderful fable.
Brandy Programs
Mar 18, 2017 Brandy Programs rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: caldecott, story-time
I wish there were half stars because it is more of a 4 1/2 star book. It is a story about remembering who you are and where you came from and that you always have to treat other people well. Love this book!
Oct 18, 2016 Ashley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once a Mouse, written and illustrated by Marcia Brown, is a Caldecott Award winning tale originating from India with underlying messages of greed, gratitude, and self-acceptance. A hermit spends his day “thinking about big and little” when all of a sudden he spots a mouse. After rescuing the mouse from a crow, the hermit uses his magic to transform the mouse into other animals he stumbles upon to help the mouse defend himself. Ultimately, the mouse is transformed into a marvelous tiger and becom ...more
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Picture Book by Marcia Brown 1 5 Feb 11, 2012 08:31PM  
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Marcia Brown has won the Caldecott Medal three times, the only person to do so until David Wiesner in 2007. She is also the winner of the 1977 Regina Medal, a six-time recipent of the Caldecott Honor, and the winner of the 1992 Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal for her lifetime body of work in children's literature.

Brown continued to paint in her studio in California, focusing on Chinese art instead of c
More about Marcia Brown...

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