By Kathleen Stevens
Mercer Mayer’s Little Critter books are great for parents and teachers of young children to have handy. The small readers feature a family of friendly “critters” and follow Little Critter as he confronts the many changes that accompany growing up into a “big critter.” Mayer describes these events from the perspective of Little Critter, making the stories accessible for young readers.
Mayer’s watercolor illustrations are whimsical in the combination of their realistic detail and the humorous expressions of his memorable imaginary creatures. His critters are approachable, friendly figures for young readers. Young readers will also enjoy locating the small mouse or spider that feature in every picture, whose placements and expressions contribute to the genuine playfulness of the stories.
I Just Forgot describes the innocence of forgetting from a child’s perspective. Little Critter narrates the chores and tasks he forgets to do throughout the day, as well as those he remembers. He also offers his self-assured explanations for events such as forgetting to shut the refrigerator door or forgetting to use soap, which he claims to have done purposefully. Mayer effectively captures a child’s thoughts and reasoning by pairing things remembered with things forgotten, such as remembering to get ready for school in time but forgetting a lunch box. The story offers a playful alternative to frustrations children may experience when they forget or make mistakes. It is also a helpful reminder for adults that sometimes we “just forget” and that is totally fine.
Other favorites in the series include Just Go to Bed and I Was So Mad, describing, respectively, the often unpleasant event of getting ready for bed and the frustrations of being told “no” in the familiar voice of Little Critter.