At the Paw and Claw restaurant it is lunch and Mr. Maxwell wants to celebrate his promotion with something special. He orders the headwaiter, Clyde to bring him a live mouse instead. When Clyde asks “Would you like us to kill it for you?” Mr. Maxwell replies, “That won’t be necessary.”
But his decision results in a mouse with excellent manners slowly undermining his desire to kill it. The mouse speaks for one thing, has excellent manners, suggests salt and pepper, requests that grace be said, suggests and appropriate wine, and so on.
How the mouse gets out of it is very reminiscent of other “escape” stories including the fairy tale Three Billy Goats Gruff.
Frank and Devin Asch, Kids Can Press, 2004, ISBN 978-1-55337486-2
Food Advice From Your Parents
Mr. Maxwell’s mother had always said, “Don’t fraternize with your food.” Use this as a starting point to a discussion of advice, rules, and sayings about food that the students have from their parents. Ask them to brainstorm at least six sayings and be prepared to present the logic behind the sayings.
- Don’t play with your food
- Don’t chew with your mouth open
- Eat everything on your plate
- Just try it
- Don’t bit off more than you can chew
- As easy as apple pie
- It’s a piece of cake
- It’s like taking candy from a baby
- It’s good for you
- A dish fit for a king
- As alike as two peas in a pod
- A watched pot never boils
- Man does not live by bread alone
- Take that with a pinch of salt
- You are what you eat
A story where one character persistently offers “food” sayings and advice to the other character might be fun if students are enjoying this activity. (Perhaps a frog that is trying rather unsuccessfully to catch flies while his little friend is continually offering advice.)
The Note of Apology
At the end of the book the mouse sends a note of apology to Mr. Maxwell. Analyze it with the students to identify its characteristics, before they practice an imaginary apology themselves. It might be fun for them to write a story that is actually an extended apology for a whole series of mishaps.
Characteristics students might identify could include:
- It must be sincerely felt and must include the words “I am sorry” or “I apologize.”
- The apology cannot be followed by the word “but…”
- It should be short (but not if it is actually a disguise for a story).
- It should identify the thing(s) that happened and what you are apologizing for.
- It should offer to make up for it in some way, if possible.
- It should end with the hope for the future
- It needs to include a salutation, and an ending. Dear…and Sincerely…
With the criteria the students identify, how good is the mouse’s apology?
For 10 creative writing ideas, click Mr. Maxwell’s Mouse to download.