While it may be 64 degrees outside right now (take that global climate change deniers) winter will soon officially be upon us, so I thought I would mention Leo Lionni’s 19XX classic Frederick. Using his signature collage technique Lionni tells the tale of Frederick the mouse, who along with the other mice in his colony must collect food for the winter. There is only one small problem; Frederick has no interest in collecting food, not even a little bit. What he does do, while his friends and family are working incredibly hard, is to sit, stare and observe. Of course the other mice think he is lazy, but Frederick in true 24-hour news cycle spin insists that what he is doing is wicked important. You see Frederick is collecting words and colors.
Flash to mid-winter and thanks to poor planning the food has run out. However, instead of the mice entering into a murder-suicide pact, they listen to Frederick recount his memories of all the colors, sounds and beauty of spring. Lionni’s art is simple yet incredible resulting in uncluttered pages created from clutter. However, Frederick is clearly a children’s book since in reality the mice would a. not let Frederick eat any of the food they gathered since he sat on his butt all spring and b. Frederick would be the first to be eaten when the colony was forced to resort to cannibalism to survive. Alas, learning about the power of imagination trumps reality as it always has.