adapted and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky

Book cover

“Once in a funny, odd-shaped house
There lived a wee maid and a mouse.
The mouse was fat; the maid was thin.
The house was new; they'd just moved in…

Zelinsky's first book in full color, The Maid and the Mouse attracted considerable attention to this new author/illustrator. A New York Times Best Illustrated Book, it was also chosen as a Best Book by School Library Journal and was selected by both Time and Newsweek for their end-of-the-year children's book articles.

Zelinsky adapted the book from a rhyming play-party game. Starting with a pentagon for a house, a wee maid and her companion, a fat mouse, start adding improvements to it—windows, chimneys,

—and it ends up being something entirely different.
First book pic

This gives away the surprise, but there is a happy ending:

second book pic

The Maid and the Mouse became a favorite book for kindergartners. Teachers found that their appetite for it was endless, and it was easily adapted for classroom activity.

The book was printed in full color, using the four process colors of ink used in printing color photographs. But the art was prepared as color separations: four paintings in shades of gray for each picture, as well as a black line drawing for the outlines. The lines would be printed in black ink, and each tonal painting printed in one of the ink colors. It was a tour-de-force of color pre-separation, a process that has become almost completely obsolete.

(The Maid and the Mouse
is currently out of print and unavailable.)