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The Story of Jumping Mouse



Last updated Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Author: John Steptoe
Date of Publication: 1984
ISBN: 0688019021
Grade Level: 3rd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Aug. 2006

Synopsis: Based on a Native American legend, this is the tale of a compassionate, courageous mouse who journeys to a far-off land and becomes a magnificent soaring eagle. "Beautifully written and illustrated."--School Library Journal.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  This book is a legend. What is a legend? What are characteristics of a legend? What other legends have you read or heard? [A legend is a story, sometimes of a national or folk hero, which has a basis in fact but which also includes imaginative material. Some examples would be Paul Bunyan and La Llorona.]
•  This story uses personification, which means that it gives animals human thoughts and emotions. What other stories do you know that give animals or things human thoughts and emotions?
•  This book is a Native American legend. Who were the Native Americans?
•  Have you ever dreamed of going to a far-off place? Where would you like to go? What would you see there?
•  The mouse in the story sits at night listening to the stories of ?the elders,? the old mice. Do you ever listen to the stories of your grandparents or older relatives? What stories do you like to hear?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Many times, from the beginning, the story mentions the ?shadows of the sky.? What do you think these shadows are? What does this mean? Why are they something dangerous to Jumping Mouse?
•  What is another name for a bison? Have you ever seen one?
•  What are some of the gifts Jumping Mouse gives away? What happens to him each time he gives a gift?
•  Jumping Mouse travels through brush land, desert, grassland, and mountains. What are characteristics of each of these environments? What are some animals that live in each?
•  Have you ever heard the expression ?It is better to give than to receive?? How does that proverb apply to this story? Have you had experiences where gave away something, only to have something really good happen to you?
•  What parts of this legend have a basis in fact? What parts are imagined?
•  In the end, what does Jumping Mouse become? How does the illustrator show this on the last page? [He becomes a ?shadow of the sky.?]

Craft ideas:
•  Divide your paper into four sections and label each desert, grassland, mountains, and sky. Draw what that habitat looks like and some of the animals that live there.
•  Cut out of black construction paper some shapes of large birds to represent the ?shadows of the sky.? Glue them onto the top half of some white paper. Draw the ground below them, along with a picture of Jumping Mouse.

*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!