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The mouse that roared

ray_little mouse santiThe Little Mouse Santi, with a story by David Eugene Ray and illustrations by Santiago Germano, is a classic-feeling picture book for young readers. In it, the main character, a mouse named Santi, wants to be a cat. He studies the farm cats and copies their activities and attitudes until he has the whole cat thing down. (Meowing. Ignoring everyone. Pretending he was bored.) Although he’s nervous, he finally works up the courage to approach one of the cats, show his stuff, and ask, “Do you think I make a good cat?” The cat’s reply is unexpected but perfectly suited to a picture book about the search for identity.

The Little Mouse Santi is a winner. It has a child-friendly, universal story; clean illustrations that recall Japanese anime but are entirely original; effective use of double-page spreads and of page turns; and a funny twist at the end. The language is pared down and direct, well-paced for a smooth unfolding of the story; the production values are high, with good-quality paper and a durable binding.

So, who’s the publisher? Nope, it’s not one out of New York or San Francisco or even Grand Rapids. It’s published by a New Orleans press so small it barely qualifies as such: “Confetti Park is a children’s media workshop, podcast, and weekly radio program based out of New Orleans. We gather and tell stories, through music, art, puppetry, animations, and more.” Yep. The times and the delivery systems, they are a-changin’, but the books themselves — maybe not so much.

The Little Mouse Santi was published in January 2015. (Here are the ordering details from Confetti Park.) Since then it’s been picked up by Barnes & Noble and Amazon, and it even has its own Facebook page. My local library system owns half a dozen copies, all of which are currently checked out. Santi may not be a cat, but he sure is a hit.

Martha V. Parravano About Martha V. Parravano

Martha V. Parravano is book review editor of The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog.

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