The Story of Jumping Mouse
I am finding it hard to keep motivated these days, to keep plugging away at my goals when it feels like I am hitting a brick wall at every turn. When things get tough, it can easily send your mind into a tailspin, so much so that you forget what your goals even are. It’s really easy to suffocate and paralyze yourself with self-doubt.
Keeping yourself motivated is an on-going battle. There are plenty of folks out there who would be more than happy to point out the impossible to you or remind you of the “reality” of situations. But, so many amazing things in life were brought to us by people who never stopped wondering “what if?” and who dared to dream of the impossible. Your dreams are worth fighting for. Have confidence in your abilities and then be strong enough to follow through with action. Though, a little stubbornness doesn’t hurt either. Keep reading…
The Story of Jumping Mouse, a Native American legend retold and illustrated by John Steptoe, reminds me of an onion. There are multiple layers to both the story and the art. Depending at what stage you are in life, a reader can walk away with a different understanding and life lesson. It is a story about a mouse’s journey to a far-off land. It is a story about compassion and courage. It is a story about dreams and determination. And, in some ways, like the stench of the onion, it is a story about hardship. Life does not always smell like roses, and like the fat old mouse in the story exemplifies, there are often setbacks: “He lost hope of finding his dream and now his life is over.
The art is beautiful and so rich with detail that it takes a while for the eye to adjust to the different layers. I would suggest a couple flip through and you’ll discover something new each time. Using only a graphite pencil, Steptoe has created a world filled with shades of gray that contains so much depth.
The Story of Jumping Mouse,a children’s book review by Thao Lam
Author and Illustrator John Steptoe
(September 14th, 1950 to August 28th, 1989)
John Steptoe didn’t have a problem with motivation; he began his first book at the age of 16. Quitting school three months before his senior year, Steptoe took advice from a Harper editor and wrote a story to go with his illustrations. Stevie, his first published work, received praise for shedding new light on urban youth and African-American culture, while appealing to readers of all races with its universal themes of jealousy and reconciliation.
Born on September 14, 1950, in Brooklyn, New York, Steptoe began drawing and story telling at a young age. While receiving formal art training at the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan and HARYOU-ACT Art Program, Steptoe had the privilege of being mentored and encouraged by well-known African-American oil painter Norman Lewis. He also studied at the Vermont Academy, under the guidance of sculptor John Torres and printer William Major.
Sadly, John Steptoe’s life was cut short; he was only 38 years old when he died of unknown causes on August 28, 1989. In the span of his career, Steptoe won numerous awards for illustrating and writing books that addressed the concerns, experiences and issues of his African ancestors, as well as the lives of inner-city African Americans.
Publisher HarperCollins (March 13, 1984)