Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Frederick

Lionni, Leo (Author/Illustrator)
Penguin Random House 1973. 32 pages
First published: 1967
ISBN: 9780394826141 (paperback)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

character, point of view

Award

Caldecott Honor Book – 1968

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

As winter approaches, a family of field mice work day and night to gather corn, nuts, wheat and straw for the cold, grey days ahead. All of them, that is, except Frederick, who sits by himself on a rock gathering colours and words and the sun’s rays. The others reproach him for not doing his share, but in an unexpected twist, his “supplies” are precisely what brings them comfort and warmth when their food runs out.

Written as a fable, the story combines simple text with repetitive elements to reinforce the idea that the hardworking mice resent Frederick’s “laziness” regarding the winter preparations. Three times they ask him why he doesn’t work. Three times he responds that what he does is, in fact, work: “. . . I am gathering words. For the winter days are long and many, and we’ll run out of things to say.”

In the double page collaged illustrations, the earthy palette changes with the seasons: summer greens becoming harvest shades and then greys for winter. When Frederick finally dazzles the cold, starved mice with his poetry, their hideout lights up with colour.

The simple text carries a powerful message about the value of nurturing the arts for the survival and happiness of the collective.

  •  How does the illustrator distinguish Frederick from the other mice in the pictures? What details in the pictures give clues about how Frederick feels as the story progresses?
  •  

    Illustrate Frederick’s poem about the four seasons. Include details from the text.

  •  

    Write and illustrate how you would spend a long winter in a hideout. What supplies would you need for survival? How would you spend the summer?

  •  

    What is the moral of the story? What other stories do you know that focus on the subject of being different?

  •  

    Preview the vocabulary words that are important for comprehension such as mice, day, night, seasons, sunrays, corn, etc.

  •  

    As the story is read aloud, choral read the mouse dialogue in two groups.

  •  Match pictures and labels of previewed vocabulary.
  •  

    Note the different roles played by the mice. How are communities of people (family, school, city) similar? What is your role at home? In school? Discuss the role of art in your environment. What happens if you don’t fulfill your community role? Discuss how each person is important.

  • To adopt effective work methods
  • To cooperate with others
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Physical Education and Health
  • Science and Technology
  • The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse (H. Ward)
    The Grasshopper and the Ants (J. Pinkney)