PPBF: The Thread Soldier

2016 March B 032The Thread Soldier
Written by Anne Heathers
Illustrated by Esteban Frances
Harcourt Brace & Co NY, 1960
Ages 3 and up

Brief Synopsis (from book jacket): When a little mouse, playing with a spool of thread, discovers he has made a thread soldier, he is overjoyed. Now he will make for his new friend not only clothes, but a horse and a park to ride in. And if he can do this much himself, how much more could he make with the help of his friends?

Opening  A little mouse went out for a walk and found a spool of thread. “Whoopee!” he said. “Now I can have some fun.” He started to unwind the thread – and to pull it round and round. Suddenly he realized that he had made a flower. “Well, well,” he exclaimed. “If I can make a flower…”

Themes: Creativity/Imagination
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You never know what treasure you might uncover when browsing in a used bookstore. This tiny volume – about 6×7 – popped out as I dug through the picture book stack. The yellowed dust jacket told me it was vintage, but the story is remarkably fresh! I just loved that line of jaunty mice marching across the top. And inside – look!

The mice gleefully make a fine world for the soldier, using their mousey imaginations to the max! It’s all fun and games until someone begins to reel in the spool of thread. How will they save their friend before he disappears?

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2016 March B 033Links To Resources:

Try some string art for kids

Make some glued yarn pictures

Read Crockett Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon (1955) and Ellen Stoll Walsh’s Mouse Paint (1995). Compare and contrast the three books!

Perfect Picture Book Fridays are the creation of the children’s book author Susanna Leonard Hill. Susanna maintains a complete list (alphabetically and by theme) of all reviews with new books being added every Friday. It’s a wonderful resource if you’re looking for book activities or books with a particular theme.

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About Cathy Ballou Mealey

Children's book author, repped by Liza Fleissig of the Liza Royce Agency. Wife, mother, daughter, sister, alumna, autism advocate, book reviewer. Reach me via email at cmealey@post.harvard.edu or Twitter @catballoumealey
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25 Responses to PPBF: The Thread Soldier

  1. What a great story to encourage imagination. It looks like it was someone’s treasure. Thanks for sharing! I would have been 9 yrs old when the book was published.

  2. mariagianferrari says:

    What a great find, Cathy! I love the cover, and the way the characters are marching across the page. Bummer that our library doesn’t have it. Has it inspired a story? And “The End” image above is just perfect! Thanks for sharing, Cathy :)!

  3. rnewman504 says:

    What a treasure of a story! Great post, Cathy! You just never know what you’ll find at a used bookstore.

  4. Aren’t you lucky to have found this book. I will definitely check it out. I love your activity ideas. Thanks for the post.

  5. Sue Heavenrich says:

    what a great way to encourage kids to play with string!

  6. What a find indeed. Love the way it trips across the page just like mice do. Great illustrations and story of imagination.

  7. Joanna says:

    What a treasure. I love the “The End” illustration sooo much! It reminded me immediately of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Is it still in print?

  8. I never heard of this one! Great review – thanks for sharing this gem!

  9. The surprise of your used bookstore find is akin to the surprise of the the little mouse’s creations courtesy of the spool of thread. Serendipity?

  10. This looks so cute, Cathy! Can you add the themes in so I can pin it? Imagination and friendship maybe? But I haven’t read it so don’t know… 🙂 Thanks!

  11. The concept made me smile — as did that jaunty mouse.

    I shall search for this one.

  12. I will believe you posted this just for me!

    • Honestly – I thought of YOU the instant I found this. I searched for a second copy in the stack! Someday when I have sufficiently pored over its pages I will send it to you.The mice convey emotions in a way that calls to mind your animal illos. I’m searching for the 1961 Heathers/Frances collaboration called “A Handful of Surprises.”

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