Mouse Scouts – working on badges inspired by vintage Girl Scout badges – but facing realistic mouse challenges as well. Irresistible!!!
Mouse Scouts by Sarah Dillard. Yearling, 2016.
Violet and her friend Tigerlily have just moved up from Buttercups to Acorn Scouts. Their new leader, Miss Poppy, is notoriously strict – Violet especially is afraid of being sent back to Buttercups. The troop is working on earning their Sow it and Grow it badge, which involves them planting and growing a garden over the course of the summer (none of this wimpy modern earning a badge in a meeting or two.) It’s very entertaining just reading about the challenges of scavenging gardening implements from things like discarded human cutlery, but watering, weeding and pests are especially challenging for tiny mice.
Violet is a quiet, crafty mouse, while Tigerlily is much more the traditional tomboy. All the mice have distinct personalities and are drawn differently enough that my daughter was able to tell me who they all were just by looking at the pictures. The Mouse Scout Handbook excerpts that follow each chapter have an old-fashioned friendly tone that’s still much more formal than what we’d use today and perfectly captures the feel of classic Scout handbooks. (I got distracted and found that yes, you can get the original Scout handbook, How Girls Can Help Their Country, from Project Gutenberg. That’s a whole different rabbit hole, though.) Some of the Acorn Scout Handbook excerpts have projects that readers could undertake themselves, while a few are more mouse-specific.
Mouse Scouts: Make a Difference by Sarah Dillard. Yearling, 2016.
In book two, the Acorn Scouts are starting on their “Make a Difference” Badge. This sounds much more like the Bronze Award than a badge – coming up with an original project that will make a lasting difference in the community and writing an essay about it afterwards. Violet wants to find a way for her new crafting skill of basket-weaving to count while Tigerlily is disgusted by the idea. It takes a lot of work for the troop to find a project they can all agree on and hard work to make it happen – when something even more challenging and dangerous comes up. Will their ordinary project turn extraordinary, or will they be sent back to Buttercups?
These books, at 110 and 127 pages, respectively, are just long enough to be moved over to youth fiction rather than the early chapter book section of our library. They are targeted perfectly towards second and third graders, or fast and entertaining reads for older Scout enthusiasts. Ms. Yingling, I think, was quite right in saying that there’s enough to interest boys here as well as girls – lots of large animals to be contended with, as well as engineering found object to the devices they need – though it may be harder to sell boys on it because the mice are all girls. It is perfectly targeted towards girls of Brownie Girl Scout age – second and third grade. My own daughter, about to bridge to Brownies from Daisies, loved it as a read-aloud and spent some time studying it on her own, too. She was quite upset to hear that the third book won’t be out until fall.
Now I’m building a list of Scout-inspired books by level – this fits nicely in between picture book Sylvia Jean, Scout Supreme by Lisa Campbell Ernst and of course the middle grade/teen graphic series Lumberjanes. Have you found other fun similiar books?