Story of a Little Mouse Building a House – Perfect Picture Book Friday

I organized our school’s annual book swap this year, where families bring in bags of books they no longer want, the library committee sorts them, and then students, parents, and staff select books to supplement their summer reading. Any books remaining at the end of the swap get donated to a community thrift store. Kids love the swap, and it’s fun to sort through everyone’s reading. I found this little gem, and wanted to share it with you all.

Notice that the case binding has been nibbled away by our main character, Mademouse-elle (my name for the little rodent). It’s a lovely hint at what’s to come.


Actually, it’s  original name is “Histoire D’une Petite Souris Qui Construit une Maison.” But since this is a wordless picture book, rest assured the illustrations are not lost in translation.

Enter la petite souris, Mademouse-elle, a sad-whiskered little critter…

So, so sad. But her sadness doesn’t keep her from scratching a bit at the page…

Until she creates a tiny tear, one that piques her interest…

And in this moment of discovery, our poor, sad mouse, becomes ecstatic, and nibbles a hole in the page. All but her tale disappears through the heart-shaped tear.

Then she sets to work, nibbling through the paper at strategic origami fold intervals, exposing a a bit more garden underneath the paper as we turn page after page.

When the paper is completely nibbled through around the edges, Mademouse-elle begins to fold the cut-out into a structure.

She folds and folds and folds while ants wander about, butterflies flit through, and bees pollinate the flowers in the garden.

Finally, when her house is complete she peeks out the heart-shaped hole in the roof, only to find a friend, bringing a flower as a housewarming gift. Together the pair share the newly constructed home.

A testimony to the idea that if you stop feeling lonely and sorry for yourself and, instead, create something beautiful from your heart, surely there will be friends who will want to share it with you.

Something that adults and children can—ah—take to heart. Cheers! 

TITLE: Histoire D’une Petite Souris Qui Construit une Maison

Author/Illustrator: Monique Felix

Publisher: Gallimard Jeunesse, 1991

Ages: Everyone

Themes: Loneliness, friendship, creativity

14 thoughts on “Story of a Little Mouse Building a House – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. Patricia Tilton says:

    What an adorable mouse. I love the use of white space in the story as it really contributes to the mouse’s emotions. I love the book swap idea. I have so many books I donate many to our Children’s Hospital and the church where they go to kids in the inner city.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      Yes, the white space is key, I think. It lets the occasional ant, butterfly or other insect invade that left hand page, too. Kids LOVE the book swap. They look forward to it every spring. And then a bunch of lovely books also get donated, so it’s really a fantastic way to spread the love of reading.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      Bookshelves first! Who needs a house when you can lounge within the vast expanse of bookshelves? I just read where the Library of Congress contains more than 150 million items on over 800 miles of shelf space. They add 11,500 items to their collection each day. And own more than 35 million books. (((Swoon.))) Thomas Jefferson’s personal library established the LOC’s initial collection. Congress paid $23,950 for his library, slightly more than half of what it was worth.

  2. Ste J says:

    I do love this type of book, it teaches children a great message but also reminds adults of what is important and what we often forget.

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