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Literature / If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

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What do you think will happen next?
"If you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to ask for a glass of milk."
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie is a 1985 children's picture book written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond. Each page has a large, colorful picture and short sentence telling the story of a (nameless yet eponymous) mouse and an equally nameless boy. The story starts, naturally, with the boy giving the mouse a cookie. The story goes on from there, with the mouse needing a new item on each page. It ends up with the mouse, once again, wanting a cookie.

The many, many sequels (If You Give a Moose a Muffin, If You Give a Pig a Pancake, If You Give a Bear a Brownie, If You Give a Cat a Cupcake, If You Give a Dog a Donut, If You Give a Mouse a Brownie) all follow approximately the same plot, with variations on the animal and food item.

In 2015, an animated special based on the original book was released on Prime Video. It was written, developed and executive produced by Ken Scarborough, known for Arthur and Doug. The cartoon features the human boy (now named Oliver instead of being nameless) and mouse from the original picture book, with the cast rounded out by the animals from the other books, such as the pig, the moose, the cat and the dog. Originally only one special was produced, but in September 2017, Amazon announced an actual television series, which premiered on November 7, 2017. The author and illustrator of the original books are both executive producers on the show. What Amazon describes as the second part of the first season was released on June 26, 2018. A Valentine's Day special was released in February 2020 and more new episodes were released in 2021.


A narrated version of the original story was also featured on an episode of Reading Rainbow in 1993.

This book contains examples of:

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: All but the first book alliterated the animal with the food, with the exception of If You Give a Mouse a Brownie, which featured the return of the original animal, the mouse.
  • Baths Are Fun: This is the lesson of "If You Give a Dog a Bath," in which both Henry and Dog don't want to come inside to have a bath because they think it means they have to stop playing and having fun. Then they learn that they can have fun in the bath.
  • Bedsheet Ghost: All of the "ghosts" seen in the Halloween Episode "If You Give a Mouse a Pumpkin" are this. In particular, Cat has eight ghost decorations for his Halloween Spooktacular event and Moose dresses up in this costume for Halloween.
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  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: In "If You Give a Dog a Bath," Henry, Dog and Mouse want to play either Red Light, Green Light or Hide-and-Go-Seek and decide to play Red Light, Green Light Hide-and-Go-Seek, though once the seeker finds the first hider, it seems to basically just devolve into a game of chase with the rules of Red Light, Green Light in effect.
  • Catchphrase: The Animated Adaptation on Amazon has "What do you think will happen next?" It's usually said by Oliver, the boy with the mouse, though occasionally by one of the other human characters that's a companion to one of the animals. It's present in theme song as well. At the end of each story, one of the characters will say "If you (give something to / do something with an animal) what do you think will happen next?", making it a Signing Off Catchphrase as well. Also, see Here We Go Again! below.
  • Christmas Special: The Amazon If You Give a Mouse a Cookie was followed up with a Christmas special in the same style, If You Give a Mouse a Christmas Cookie.
    • The original book series has If You Take a Mouse to the Movies as this, with the food item being popcorn with a popcorn string kit.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": Everyone who's an animal character is this - Mouse, Dog, Cat, Pig, and Moose.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The book is about a mouse. Who wants a cookie.
  • Expressive Ears: On the Amazon animated series, Mouse's ears are very expressive of his moods, particularly dropping about halfway when sad or bothered by something, but perking back up when he's excited or happy.
  • Fictional Holiday: In "Summerfuntastic Day," Cat has a bad case of the "between-holidays blues," so the other characters create "Summerfuntastic Day" to cheer him up and break him of his newfound habit of staring at things lacking their holiday decorations and sighing.
  • Free Prize at the Bottom: In "The Masked Mouse Rides Again," Oliver and Mouse find a tiny toy telescope at the bottom of their cereal box. Oliver gives it to Mouse, who is inspired to create a pretend galaxy.
  • Hard Truth Aesop: The series revolves around a Central Theme of how generosity breeds dependency, and that boundaries need to be drawn so that it never escalates to that point.
  • Here We Go Again!: The last page has the mouse, once again, wanting a cookie (to go with his glass of milk). On the animated series, it's something of a Catchphrase.
  • I Can't Hear You: In "Parade Day," Mouse tells Oliver that their new float is really noisy.
    Oliver: What?!
    Mouse: I said "Our new float is really noisy!"
    Oliver: Oh. Yeah.
  • Immediate Self-Contradiction: In "Mouse and the Toy Factory," Mouse is invited to test toys at a toy factory by the owner and is allowed to bring his friends along as well. As they're headed there, he gushes about it, but Pig tells him not to get too excited and starts to say "It's probably just a—" but then cuts herself off as they arrive at the toy factory.
    Pig: (breathless) Oh my gosh this is the coolest thing I've ever seen!
  • Interspecies Friendship: Oliver and the mouse are the primary ones though they're also friends with a dog, a cat, a pig and a moose.
  • Irony: Mouse doesn’t like cheese.
  • I've Heard of That — What Is It?: In "Looking After Lovey," Mouse tells Moose that the can be a reliable Lovey-sitter for him. He then says that if he's going to be a reliable Lovey-sitter for Moose, he first needs to know what "reliable" means. Oliver tells him that "reliable means that you're someone Moose can trust to keep Lovey safe."
  • Moose Are Idiots: If You Give a Moose a Muffin has a moose who is this. In the animated series, he doesn't really seem all that dumb, but still has the typical stupid-sounding voice associated with a dumb moose.
  • Mundane Utility: In "Runaway Robot," it's revealed that Cat has invented a mobile robot with a vaguely human-like appearance, which is powered by cupcakes and can be controlled by remote control. It... makes breakfast, then washes the dishes, and can also dance.
  • Nameless Narrative: The human characters in the book don't have names given. However, in the Animated Adaptation, they are Named by the Adaptation. The boy with the mouse is Oliver and the other human characters have names as well. The boy Moose lives with is named Leo, the girl Pig lives with is named Piper, the girl Cat lives with is named Esme Louise, and the boy Dog lives with is named Henry.
  • Oh Wait, This Is My Grocery List: In "Pig Puts on a Show," Moose is made the director of a play of The Three Little Pigs. After assigning who will play the pigs, he pulls out a piece of paper and declares "And The Big Bad Wolf will be played by... Tomato!"
    Moose: Oh, sorry, that's my shopping list.
  • Race Lift: Leo, Henry, and Esme Louise were white in the books. In the show, they are black, Asian, and Latino, respectively.
  • Running Gag: In some of the later installments of the television series, Oliver giving Mouse whatever object it is that kicks off the events the episode (for example, a piece of chalk), only to admit that he doesn't know what will happen next if he gives it to him and asking what he wants it for.
  • Santa Claus: He appears at the end of the animated If You Give a Mouse a Christmas Cookie, just after Mouse sneaks a bite of the cookie left out for him. He leaves Mouse and Oliver's presents, and then Mouse hands him the cookie.
    Oliver: (narrating) And if you give Santa a cookie, then...
    Santa: Thirsty.
    Oliver: He's going to want a glass of milk to go with.
    Santa: Merry Christmas, Mouse.
  • Scenery Porn: The animated series looks like a picture book brought to life and in particular has some very gorgeous backgrounds, like of sunsets or the starry night sky. There's also plenty of colorful detail to be observed on things such as tents and flowers.
  • Second-Person Narration: The original books are all told in second person, with the boy who would become Oliver being a reader stand-in.
  • Serial Escalation: With each item the animal of the story receives, they end up wanting something else, often with the reasons getting crazier as they can go from wanting pancakes to moving into a treehouse.
  • Stock Animal Diet: Averted. This mouse eats cookies. With milk, of course. And brownies, with ice cream. And the other animals aren't any more stock diet in their tastes.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: In the If You Give a Mouse a Christmas Cookie animated special, Mouse and his friends accidentally wreck the decorations for a play that Mouse's boy, Oliver, has a big role in. Later, when Pig encounters Oliver, wondering where he can find Mouse, she tells him that Mouse is getting a haircut so that he'll look good when he sees him in the theater, which definitely hasn't had anything bad happen to it.
  • Talking Animal: The eponymous mouse and other characters in the spin-off books. Same for the animated series, though perhaps moving up a bit on the Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism.
  • Title Theme Tune and Theme Tune Roll Call: The animated series has this. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, then he'll ask for a glass of milk... And then one thing will lead to another, and you never know what's next! Let's go to unexpected places, they'll leave a smile on our faces. With Moose, Pig, Cat and Dog, so come on, come along. If you give a mouse a cookie, you never know what you'll get. If you give a mouse a cookie, what do you think will happen next?
  • Trademark Favorite Food: While the books were all about each particular animal being given a particular type of treat, this is only carried for Mouse in the Animated Adaptation on Amazon, in which he is still very big on cookies, particularly chocolate chip. Though in the show, he doesn't seem to require milk, though he does like to have it with the cookie if it's around. He's even something of an advocate for cookies. In the story "Sick Day," in which all of the other animal characters get a cold, he invents a whistling system for them - one whistle for a glass of water, two whistles for hot soup and three if they want a cookie. They all say they're too sick to want a cookie, but he says they never know.

Alternative Title(s): If You Give A Mouse A Cookie


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