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Stuart Little

Last updated Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Author: E. B. White
Illustrator: Garth Williams
Date of Publication: 1945
ISBN: 0060263954
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: May 2007

Synopsis: From Amazon.com: How terribly surprised the Little family must have been when their second child turned out to be a small mouse. Apparently familiar with the axiom that "when in New York City, anything can happen," the Littles accept young Stuart into their family unquestioningly--with the exception of Snowbell the feline who is unable to overcome his instinctive dislike for the little mouse. They build him a bed from a matchbox, and supply him with all of the accoutrements a young mouse could need. Mrs. Little even fashions him a suit, because baby clothes would obviously be unsuitable for such a sophisticated mouse. In return, Stuart helps his tall family with errant Ping-Pong balls that roll outside of their reach. E. B. White takes Stuart on a hero's quest across the American countryside, introducing the mouse--and the reader--to a myriad of delightful characters. Little finds himself embroiled in one adventure after another from the excitement of racing sailboats to the unseen horrors of substitute teaching. This is a story of leaving home for the first time, of growing up, and ultimately of discovering oneself. At times, doesn't everyone feel like the sole mouse in a family--and a world--of extremely tall people?

Note to readers:
•  This is a chapter book, but the chapters are short and the text is not dense, so you should be able to get at least to chapter VII, “The Sailboat Race.”

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Have you ever heard of E. B. White? Do you know what other books he has written? [Charlotte’s Web]
•  This book was published in 1945. This is when your grandparents or great-grandparents lived. How do you think life was different then than it is now? How do the pictures look different from today?
•  Look at the cover. What is Stuart? What do you know about how mice live?
•  Do you think this book is realistic or fantasy, or a little of both?
•  Are you familiar with the recent movie about Stuart Little?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What is the Little family’s reaction to the arrival of Stuart? Does this surprise you? How?
•  What are some of the ways in which Stuart is different from other “babies”?
•  In what ways is Stuart helpful around the Little household? What are some of the challenges to him and his family?
•  Does Stuart act more like a mouse or a boy—or even a grownup?
•  In what ways does the author make Stuart’s adventures believable? What does the author do to make you believe that all this could actually happen?
•  Do you think a mouse can live with people? What will Stuart do as he gets older?
•  Answer any questions that may come up during reading.

Craft ideas:
•  Make paper dolls. Draw and cut out a figure of Stuart. Then, tracing around the figure, draw and cut out some of Stuart’s clothes—his suit, his sailor suit, his bathrobe. Decorate and color the clothes. Be sure to leave some tabs extending from the clothes to hook them onto your figure of Stuart.
•  Cut pieces out of construction paper and put them together to make the Wasp. Or draw a picture of the Wasp with Stuart at the helm.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don't have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!