Author and Illustrator:  Leo Lionni

frederickWe tell our children that they are all created uniquely and that each one of them is special.  Then why do we often become frustrated when those “unique” qualities tend to drive us a little crazy?

Frederick could certainly be one of those frustratingly unique little beings.  All of the field mice are busily preparing for winter.  They are working day and night, gathering corn, nuts, wheat, and straw from an abandoned barn.  These loads must be carried all the way to the old stone wall where they live.  But Frederick just sits quietly.

“Frederick, why don’t you work?” they asked.

“I do work,” said Frederick.

“I gather sun rays for the old dark winter days.”

Later, when asked if he is dreaming, he replies that he is gathering words for the long winter days when they will run out of things to say.

Soon the cold winter days are upon them, and it isn’t long until most of the nuts and berries have been nibbled up.  The chill of the stone wall is miserable and the mice turn to Frederick.

“Now I send you the rays of the golden sun. Do you feel how their golden glow. . .”

As Frederick began to speak of the sun his little mice friends began to warm up. Could it be that there truly was magic in Frederick’s voice?  They close their eyes as Frederick fills their minds with lovely painted fields, and clap as he closes with a sweet poem of seasons with the words he had gathered during the fall.



Perhaps this little fable of Frederick, the dreamer, teaches us that it may be our dreams of more pleasant times will help to carry us through times of difficulty.

Download a Frederick maze

Make a mouse puppet

Mary Byrne Kline

1.  Why did Frederick choose to gather sun rays, colors, and words for winter?
2.  What would have resulted if the other mice had not gathered berries, nuts, and corn?
3.  Suppose you could tell someone something that “paints a picture” in their mind. What would it be?

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