An Oldie but a Goodie: Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh



This well-known story begins with three white mice and a cat. The three mice cleverly hide from the cat’s view on a white piece of paper, their colorless camouflage.

However, one day when the cat was napping, the mice had a colorful adventure! They discovered three jars of paint. Thinking it was mouse paint, they hopped into the jars and covered themselves in paint! Image

Now our three mouse friends were blue, red, and yellow. Their new colors dripped all around them, creating puddles, perfect for jumping! First, the red mouse danced in the yellow puddle. His dancing feet mixed the colors together, and, to their surprise, made orange!


The yellow mouse to his turn in the blue puddle, which got all stirred up and turned green! Next, it was the blue mouse’s turn. He splished and splashed in the red puddle until all his dancing made it purple!

They learned that red and yellow make orange,

Yellow and blue make green,

And blue and red make purple.

After they washed themselves from the hardened paint, the three white mice started painting their white paper in all six colors they had discovered. They painted a part blue, one part red, one part yellow, and then did three parts orange, green, and purple…

but they left one part white, just in case the cat went looking for them again.

A favorite among elementary art teachers, Mouse Paint has charmed children and adults for years. It is perfect for adventurous toddlers and young artists who want to learn about the three primary colors and how they can be mixed into their favorite secondary colors. The simply story is playful and engaging, but explicitly conveys to readers how to mix colors. Working with many art teachers, I have seen several fun ways to incorporate the mischief of the mice into a fun art activity, like using colored icing on cookies for the children to mix and create their own colorful treats!

Though it is useful as a classroom book for art, Mouse Paint would be an excellent addition to any home or school library for early readers, from toddlers to first or second graders. This adventure in a mouse’s world of color will remain a family favorite for years to come!


Grace McKinney


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