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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. A full television series followed, which premiered on November 7, 2017 as a production with Canada's Mercury Filmworks.

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.
  • Ascended Extra: Cat and Dog were among the animals in If You Give a Pig a Party, and would eventually receive books of their own.
  • Christmas Special: 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.
  • Creator Cameo: The girl in Pig's books is based on the Illustrator, Felicia Bond.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": Every 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.
  • 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). In the animated series, it's something of a Catchphrase.
  • Irony: Mouse doesn’t like cheese.
  • 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.
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction: In If You Give a Pig a Pancake, the pig builds an entire treehouse in less than a day with scrap lumber from the girl's toolshed.
  • 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. The other animals aren't any more stock diet in their tastes.
  • 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.