Book review: A Genuine Little Mouse / Une Véritable Petite Souris by PB Lecron
Iris, the mouse wants to be the tooth fairy. That’s because, in France, the tooth fairy isn’t a fairy at all but a special mouse that collects children’s baby teeth when they fall out.
A Genuine Little Mouse, written and illustrated by PB Lecron, and available in French as Une Véritable Petite Souris, is about Iris and her chance to become the tooth fairy mouse for the boy who lives in the big old house near her garden home.
Origin of this fantasy: tooth fairy mouse
When Iris sees the boy from the big old house jiggling one of his loose teeth, she dares to wonder if this will be her opportunity to be the tooth fairy mouse. When the boy loses his tooth and it falls into the fish pond, Iris sees her chance!
The fantastical world is a childhood favourite with talking animals and daisy chains with super strength. I was first struck by the simple but charming illustrations of Iris and her world, and I enjoyed the way daisies provided subtle continuity by being introduced as her garden home only to play an important role later.
There are parts of the story where parents can initiate discussion and creative thinking with their young readers, such as what they’d use to rescue the tooth or which other animals could make an alternative tooth fairy. Making daisy chains can also be introduced as an after-reading activity, bringing the outside inside.
Although Lecron pitches the book for children aged between 3 and 9, I would place it for the younger years of that age bracket as a book for parents to read to them. There are some long sentences and words that are beyond a child reading to themselves, and yet it’s too simple for parents to read aloud through to the older years of the bracket. As an Australian reading a book by an author with a background from the United States, some of the English feels unnatural, which is something parents may need to consider or can be used as talking points with older readers.
Cultural differences warning: French fairy tales versus others
In France, the tooth fairy isn’t a fairy at all but a special mouse that collects children’s baby teeth when they fall out.
I offer a warning to the reader depending upon your cultural background. I read the French version first and was extremely confused: there’s a mouse who wants to be a real mouse?
Am I missing something? And I was.
Because having lost my baby teeth in Australia and not in France, my teeth were taken care of by a fairy and not a mouse.
The English version provides this context at the start but something to be aware of for those who start off with the French version who also lost their baby teeth in a country visited by a fairy instead of a mouse.
French childhood culture
As a snapshot of French childhood culture, this book is well-suited for a family who is trying to introduce France to their children, or those generally trying to broaden cultural horizons.
What level of French language skill required?
The French version can be read by an intermediate French speaker but I recommend practicing reading it out loud before reading it with children as the complicated clauses and words that are beyond early readers are also a challenge for adult French learners.
How familiar are you with French fairy tales? If you’re seeking to broaden the cultural horizons of your children, grandchildren, or school students this book will work well for you.
A Genuine Little Mouse and Une Véritable Petite Souris are published by Birdie Bergamot Books.
The book cover images & illustrations were provided by the publisher.
1. There is a wonderful story of family creativity and collaboration behind this book that you should not miss. Read our Interview with Patti Lecron and Marianne Lecron.
2. The Foundations of French Fairy Tales – by Veronica Royce
3. Interview en Francaise
4. Book review of another book published by Birdie Bergamot Books