Author Showcase: Leo Lionni – Children’s book author and illustrator

Now that J has become a confident reader, I have started asking him to read to Little E and Thumper. It brings me great joy to see all three of them together, looking through a picture book together.

One of our current favourite children’s book authors is Leo Lionni, who wrote and illustrated more than forty award-winning children’s books. I love his colourful and bold graphic style with its use of paper collage and watercolours. His stories are just as lovely and captivating as his pictures, and they are a joy to read aloud!

“I believe that a good children’s book should appeal to all people who have not completely lost their original joy and wonder in life. The fact is that I don’t make books for children at all. I make them for that part of us, of myself and of my friends, which has never changed, which is still a child.”
― Leo Lionni

We currently own only two books by Leo Lionni, “Alexander and the Wind-up Mouse” and “Matthew’s Dream” – but I am hoping that we will be able to expand out library soon!

Alexander and the Wind-up Mouse” is a fun little book about Alexander the mouse who envies the seemingly cushy life of his only friend, Willy, a mechanical toy mouse. Alexander seeks a magic pebble that will grant him a single wish. Eventually, Willy is discarded by his owner, and Alexander must choose between using his wish for himself or for his dear friend. This is such a beautiful book about unselfish love and friendship, I cannot help but feel very moved at the end!

Matthew’s Dream“, a colourful book about Matthew, a little mouse who visits an art museum and becomes inspired by the beautiful abstract works that he sees. This is a very interesting book that is a great way to discuss the interpretation and appreciation of art and aesthetics! I was very surprised at the way Leo Lionni was able to clearly communicate such abstract concepts to children, but it really opened up their eyes and helped them to look at the world around them in a new way.

Beautiful stories, beautiful pictures

Stories and pictures that captivate

It just so happened that a few months ago, the Japanese casual wear designer, Uniqlo, was selling kids clothes bearing Leo Lionni designs. When I spied them in store, all I could think of was ‘WOOHOO!’ I just had to pick out a few for Little E to wear. She was so excited to see the paper mice from her favourite stories on the dresses, which she likes to put on whenever we are reading from the books.

We also found a great Leo Lionni paper mouse craft that is available as a free printable, courtesy of Random House publishing.

We just printed it out and Little E carefully cut out each part with a pair of safety scissors. For the mouse’s body, we used Leo Lionni’s own technique of tearing the paper, so that the body would have a furry appearance!

We used double-sided tape to fix the arms, legs, eye and tail to the mouse body, and then taped the whole thing to a straw so that Little E could play with it like a puppet!

How to make a Paper Mouse

Little E makes a paper Alexander mouse!

You can download the template for the paper mouse as well as other free Leo Lionni printables here.

A Special for Owls Well Readers: Well done for reading to the end! MPH Bookstores Singapore is kindly sponsoring a giveaway of “Alexander and the Wind-up Mouse” by Leo Lionni to THREE lucky Owls Well Readers! Huzzah!

To take part in this giveaway:

  1. Be a fan of the Owls Well Facebook page
  2. Like and share this post on Facebook and tag three friends – make sure your post is public!
  3. Leave a comment below telling me about your first ‘best’ friend (or your child’s first ‘best’ friend), as well the name of your Facebook account that you used to like and share the page. Don’t forget to include your email address! (If you would like to send me the email address privately, leave a comment for the other answers, then email me at 4owlswell [at] gmail [dot] com)

(Giveaway is open to anyone with a Singapore address and will end on 20th October 2015. Winners will be picked via – just make sure you complete all 3 easy steps!)

P.S. Special thanks to MPH Bookstores Singapore for being awesome and acquiescing to my request for review copies of all the books listed in this post!

P.P.S. This post was written in memory of Leo Lionni who passed away at the age of 89 on 11 October 1999.

Update: This giveaway is now closed and the winners have been emailed – thanks for playing!


10 thoughts on “Author Showcase: Leo Lionni – Children’s book author and illustrator

  1. Oooh we love Leo Lionni books too (as I’m sure you know), but we haven’t read Matthew’s Dream yet. Noah enjoys Alexander and the wind-up Mouse, and we just read it again two nights ago! Thanks for sharing the printables. Will go download those. 🙂

  2. My best friend when I was really young was my older cousin, Sharon. She was born in Japan, but she came back to Singapore when I was about 7, and we got into SUCH mischief at Grandma’s house every day, climbing trees, building secret gardens and making a mess of everything 😀 We weren’t so close once we went to secondary school, but she’s still one of my closest cousins to date. 🙂

    Dorothea Xu

  3. Oh, we like Leo Lionni too but not every book is good. Some were a bit… weird. Some favouites: Little Blue and Little Yellow, A Colour of His Own, Swimmy. Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse is a great one too!

  4. Pingback: Leo Lionni Children’s Book Giveaway

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