Leo Lionni, an internationally known designer, illustrator, and graphic artist, was born in Holland and lived in Italy until he came to the United States in 1939. He was the recipient of the 1984 American Institute of Graphic Arts Gold Medal and was honored posthumously in 2007 with the Society of Illustrators' Lifetime Achievement Award. His picture books are distinguished by their enduring moral themes, graphic simplicity and brilliant use of collage, and include four Caldecott Honor Books: Inch by Inch, Frederick, Swimmy, and Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse. Hailed as "a master of the simple fable" by the Chicago Tribune, he died in 1999 at the age of 89.
Some mice take the wall for granted, never speaking of itin fact, never even seeing it. But for Tillie, a mouse who believes that the grass (and scenery) on the other side must be not only greener, but fantastic and beautiful, the lure of the wall proves impossible to ignore. When her glorious visions of the other side prove too much to bear, Tillie tunnels under. Her reception on the other side is a warm oneidentical mice to the ones left behind greet her, and then follow her back home. There, she is a hero, and forever after the mice pass freely back and forth from one side to the other. The mice will look familiar to readers of Lionni's other works, but this storylike all his othersnever falls to formula. His philosophical playfulness is in full force, and Tillie's visitation may be, after all, a circular one, with ambiguities to pore over and be delighted by. It's a journey worth repeating. Ages 3-7. (Mar.)
K-Gr 2-- It is reassuring to be in the company of Lionni's mice again. These inquisitive, clever animal characters prove once more the value of the fable as storytelling device, especially when it is simply told and beautifully illustrated. Tillie, one of a band of mice, is confined, not unhappily, to a meadow behind a long, high wall. Although there is companionship and plenty to eat, Tillie longs to discover the unknown world beyond the wall. In her reveries she creates an imaginary place peopled with fantastic creatures, giving Lionni an opportunity to display his coloristic artistry. It takes all of Tillie's determination and resourcefulness to overcome the complacency of her companions and eventually to find a way to the other side of the wall. The fact that Tillie is the youngest mouse, and a female, lends substance to the message that strength of character and leadership qualities will surface when a challenge arises. The simplicity of line and shape in the full-color collage illustrations enhance the mood of the text. This integration of art and prose, and the message that both convey, provide children with a superior picture book that can be enjoyed on several levels. Invite Tillie and her friends to join other Lionni favorites on the picture book shelves. As with Lionni's other books, this one should be a perennial favorite for primary grade story hours. --Martha Rosen, Edgewood School, Scarsdale, N.Y.
Lionni's inquisitive, clever mice prove once more the value of the fable as a storytelling device, especially when it is simply told and beautifully illustrated. . . . A superior picture book. --School Library Journal (Starred Review)
"A journey worth repeating." --Publishers Weekly