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Saturday, May 23, 2015
By William Steig
In this classic fable by William Steig, an unlikely friendship combines with elements of “The Lion and the Mouse”.
I am so glad that William Steig went from writing cartoons to writing children’s books! The sentence structures he uses, the elaboration of descriptions and the strong, exciting vocabulary he embeds in his stories are all inspiring for any age writer.
Amos the Mouse loves the ocean and is curious about lands on the other side. He is determined to explore, so he builds himself a boat for his adventure. He sets off and has a wonderful time. He loves every aspect of being out to sea—the ocean spray, the smells, the bouncy waves, the sea at night, the huge, starry night sky.
A favorite line from this part of the story: "One night, in a phosphorescent sea, he marveled at the sight of some whales spouting luminous water; and later, lying on the deck of his boat gazing at the immense, starry sky, the tiny mouse, Amos, a little speck of a living thing in the vast living universe, felt thoroughly akin to it all.
Except for one night—he falls off the side of the boat and cannot swim back to it! He soon is lost at sea and is very desperate. By-and-by, a whale, Boris, swims to him and offers to help.
Amos climbs on his back and they begin their journey together to return Amos to his homeland. During the long journey the two develop a deep friendship. They thoroughly enjoy each other’s company sharing their deepest secrets and their ambitions.
Finally, they arrive at Amos’ home and they have to bid a sad farewell. Amos assures Boris that if Boris every needs help, Amos will assist him if possible.
Years pass and the two grow much older. One day a powerful tidal wave hurls Boris onto a beach and he is ‘beached’ and stranded. As it so happens, it is the beach where Amos lives.
The two friends immediately recognize each other. Boris pleads for help and Amos rushes off to find some friends who can assist in getting Boris back into the water. Amos returns with two elephants who roll Boris back to where he needs to be—the ocean.
The two friends bid tearful goodbyes to each other, knowing that they most likely will never see each other again.
Suggested Uses as a Mentor Text:
Book Genre: Fable
Reading Workshop strategies: Predicting, Inferring, Synthesizing
Writing Workshop genre/strategies: Narrative Writing, Elaboration, Word Choice
Grammar: strong verbs, vocabulary
Curricular Themes: Character Ed/ Friendship
Bio on William Steig: http://us.macmillan.com/author/williamsteig