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Literature / Mouse Math

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Albert Helps Out, one of the books in the series

Mouse Math is a series of educational picture books illustrated by Deborah Melmon, and written by various authors, though Eleanor May was the author for the majority of the titles.

The books are focused on a young mouse named Albert and to a lesser degree his older sister Wanda. As the books' intros explain, "Each book in the Mouse Math series provides a fresh take on a basic math concept. The mice discover solutions as they, for instance, use position words while teaching a pet snail to do tricks or count the alarmingly large number for friends they've invited over on a rainy day—and, lo and behold, they are doing math!"

The various titles in the series were published from 2013 to as late as 2017. In 2019, most if not all of the titles in the series were reissued with new cover artwork. Each includes an activities section at the end to help parents and/or educators reinforce the concepts being taught in the story. Beginning in 2022, new books in the series again began being published, with more new releases continuing into at least 2023. The new titles are all authored by Lori Haskins Houran, with Deborah Melmon returning as illustrator.


Mouse Math contains examples of the following:

  • "Begone" Bribe: In Albert Helps Out, Albert wants to earn two quarters to pay to use a penny-smashing machine at the local library. He asks his sister, Wanda, who has just sat down to read for her homework, if there's anything she'll pay him to help her with, such as doing her homework, making her a special snack, or singing her favorite song. She tells him to sit quietly and that she'll give him a penny for every minute he does so. He makes it four minutes. When he asks if he can do it again, she says she can't afford it and suggests asking the neighbors if they need help.
    Wanda got out her piggy bank and counted out the pennies. "One, two, three, four."
  • Birthday Episode: Make a Wish, Albert! is about the birthday of Albert.
  • Cheesy Moon: Averted in Lost in the Mouseum in which Albert and his friend Leo observe a mouseum display of a large-size newspaper front page which carries the headline "MICE WALK ON MOON: One Small Step for Mouse: Astromice say moon is not made of Green Cheese!"
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  • Edutainment Show: Edutainment picture books. Each one presents a cute story about mice going about their daily lives. However, each is also designed to teach a math concept of some sort, such as addition, counting, shapes, or comparing sizes.
  • Fantasy Helmet Enforcement: In Make a Wish, Albert!, one of Albert's presents for his birthday is a helmet. The next present is a scooter that he hadn't actually asked for, but did wish for on his cake candles after seeing his friend Leo's new scooter.
  • First Day of School Episode: Albert Starts School is about Albert attending school for the first time, though it shows his adventures throughout the whole first week. He learns that each day has its own special activity and although he's a bit upset at first about not being able to paw paint on the first day of school, by Saturday he's upset that it isn't a school day.
  • Funny Animal: Although there's a bit of occasional hi-jinks involving cats, the concerns of the characters are basically human in nature. They play with toys, live in homes, celebrate birthdays, etc., all in a human-like society within the walls of a "People House."
  • Hiroshima as a Unit of Measure: In If the Shoe Fits, there's a shoe in the People yard that Albert and Wanda want to use as a clubhouse, but they don't know if it will fit in their home. Albert says they can measure it and Wanda points out that they don't have a ruler. Albert suggests they could measure it using his feet and comes up with "12 mouse-feet long," but when Wanda measures it, she gets "10 mouse-feet long." They realize that since their feet are different sizes, they got different numbers. They then try measuring it using cheese sticks and come up with 8 cheese sticks, only to get to the room and find that Albert has eaten most of the cheese stick. They finally settle on paper clips, which are all the same size, and which can't be eaten.
  • Interrupted Bath: Implied Trope. In Albert the Muffin-Maker, Albert repeatedly borrows ingredients for muffins from his neighbor, Mrs. Nibble. The first time, she's happy to share. The second time, she's a bit less enthusiastic. When he comes over a third time, this time wanting to borrow both baking powder and salt, she's rather less happy, and also wearing a dripping bathrobe and shower cap with ducks on it.
  • Make a Wish: Make a Wish, Albert! is about Albert celebrating his birthday. He wishes on his birthday candles for a new scooter after seeing his friend Leo's, even though he hadn't asked for one, and gets one.
  • May I Borrow a Cup of Sugar?: In Albert the Muffin-Maker, Albert is making muffins. However, he quickly finds that he doesn't have the ingredients he needs, so he borrows pretty much everything from neighbors because he's been told that "it's nice to share," his bemused sister Wanda forcing him to stop borrowing from one particular neighbor, Mrs. Nibble, after he borrows no less than four different ingredients from her. Once the muffins are done, she has him take a muffin to each of the ten individuals he borrowed stuff from, leaving them with two to each have one.
  • Mouse World: All of the major characters are mice, but they live in an underground society in the People yard, complete with a cat to contend with and a garden where they can pick berries. Within this society in the walls of the "People House" is a school, a "mouseum" and much more.
  • Slice of Life: Although the books do teach math concepts, most of the basic stories about slice of life stuff such as going to school, making snacks, cleaning up a messy room, etc.
  • Stock Animal Diet: The mice like cheese and the non-anthropomorphic cat is often given milk to drink, though Albert notes that he read that milk makes a cat's stomach hurts.
  • Won't Take "Yes" for an Answer: In Albert Adds Up!, Albert really wants to read the latest book a in a series called Captain Slime. His big sister Wanda has checked it out from the library and he really wants to read it first and asks her if he can. Most of the remainder of the book is him offering her various stuff in exchange for the privilege before she's finally able to get out that she had checked the book out for him in the first place. After that, he says that he no longer wants to read it first... because he thinks they should read it together.