By: Leo Lionni
Picture and Page Designed By: Kathy Backes


Once upon a time, there lived a family of five field mice in a meadow.  The field mice knew that winter would be on its way, so they began to gather corn, nuts, wheat, and straw.  All- except Fredrick.

 The mice asked him why he did not work. " I do work," Fredrick replied. "I gather sunrays for the cold dark winter days."  A little later, they saw Fredrick still sitting there and asked him what he was doing now. "I gather colors," Fredrick answered simply. "For winter is gray."  Then they saw Fredrick with his eyes closed and asked if he was dreaming. "Oh no, I am gathering words. For the winter days are long and many, and we'll run out of things to say." 

When winter came, the five field mice  took to their warm home in the stones. They ate their food, laughed, and told stories for many weeks. But little by little, the food began to grow less and less. The family was getting cold and did not want to chat.

 Then they remembered Fredrick and the things he stored. He told them to close their eyes and shared with them the rays of the golden sun, the colors of the periwinkles, poppies, and wheat, and best of all, the beautiful words of a poem. The mice applauded at Fredrick's finish. "But Fredrick," they said. "You are a poet!" Fredrick blushed and said shyly,"I know it."

How would you have felt if you were in Fredrick's family, and he was not gathering food? What might you say to him?

How did you feel about Fredrick at the end of the story? Did your feelings change?

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