Mouse Scouts…review and author interview

mouse scoutsAre you looking for an engaging chapter book to read with your early elementary aged child? Try Mouse Scouts by Sarah Dillard. The series is about six young mice named Violet, Tigerlily, Junebuy, Cricket, Hyacinth and Petunja who are new members of the organization called the Acorn Scouts. Acorn Scouts in nothing like the younger group, the Buttercups. What does it mean to be an acorn scout? Acorn is a “powerful symbol of knowledge and growth”.

How will they earn their badges? Their first challenge set by Ms. Poppy, the strict Acorn Scout leader is to create and maintain a vegetable garden which will earn them the “Sow It and Grow It” badge. The mice navigate through many different adventures and learn some valuable lessons along the way including organization, teamwork and how to be excellent problem solvers. The book also includes some interesting facts about choosing seeds, preparing the garden, planting seeds and preventing pests from eating all of your produce!  Mouse Scouts can inspire a young child to explore the world around them and start their own garden.

Language tips include expanding vocabulary, sequencing (first they found the seed, then they planted the seed), problem solving, and recalling information. Read this book to your child over mealtime and discuss the different challenges the Acorn scouts face during their challenges. Compare the Acorn Scouts with your child’s local scout group. How are they the same? How are they different?

sarah dillard collageI am thrilled to present this interview with the author of Mouse Scouts, Sarah Dillard. Sarah studied art at Wheaton College and illustration at Rhode Island School of Design. Her first author/illustrated book, Perfectly Arugula was published in 2009, and the audio-book version won the 2010 Gold Award from National Parenting Publications. 

To learn more about Sarah, check out her website here.

What inspired you to write Mouse Scouts?

I had created the characters of Violet and Tigerlily; two mice who were friends and very different. They needed something to do, and joining Mouse Scouts seemed like the perfect thing! My older sisters were both Girl Scouts and I was fascinated with their badges and loved reading their Girl Scout handbooks. I loved being a Brownie and one of my proudest moments was my “Flying Up” ceremony when I became a Girl Scout.

Are the Mouse Scout Series the first chapter books you have written?

The Extraordinary Warren books were chapter books as well, but they more closely resemble graphic novels. I started to do the Mouse Scouts in the same format, but it eventually became clear to me that these stories needed to be told in a more traditional chapter book format. The Mouse Scouts are the first books that I’ve done that are more word-based than picture based.

What would you like children to learn from your Mouse Scout books?

I hope that the Mouse Scouts inspire children to play outside and explore the world around them. I recently read the first Mouse Scouts book to my five year old neighbor and he went home and started a garden. That is exactly the kind of reaction that I hoped for!

Can you tell me more about Extraordinary Warren and your activity kit available on your website?
Extraordinary Warren is kind of a picture book/chapter book/graphic novel hybrid. Warren had more to say than he could get done in a picture book, so this format seems to work for him. The activity kit was created with the help of Kirsten Cappy of Curious City, and I think it provides a fun way of exploring the books. My favorite part of the kit is providing children with a format to create their own stories using the characters. I plan to do something similar with the Mouse Scouts, though with the handbook pages, Mouse Scouts books kind of have their own built-in activity kit!

As a child I remember being so involved with the books that I loved, that they spilled over into my play-time. When I read Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wider, I pretended that our dining room table was a log cabin. I would sit under the table eating Little Debbie’s Oatcakes, because that is what I thought pioneer food would taste like. The Borrowers inspired me to make doll furniture out of found things. Charlotte’s Web forever changed the way that I look at spiders. I could go on and on! I would love for my books to have that kind of effect on readers, and I think the activity kits provide a nice window for that to happen.

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