Ezra and the Mouse: The Search for Lafayette by Victoria J. Coe

Hello, Victoria J. Coe! Welcome back to Watch. Connect. Read.! Thank you so much for stopping by to share Walter Swartz’s cover illustration and Norman Forgit’s cover design for Ezra and the Mouse: The Search for Lafayette. Please take us on a tour of the cover! 

Victoria J. Coe: Thanks, Mr. Schu! I’m so excited to visit with you again!

Wow, a tour of the cover? Let’s start with Bertie, the storybook mouse of my heart. He’s about to peer through a reed, as if it’s a spyglass. Cleary, he’s looking for something…

Off to one side, you see that young Ezra is looking for something, too. Maybe he’ll find it on that ship…

The brig Herald has set sail on the glorious teal waters of Duxbury Bay, headed across the sea on a secret mission.

I love, love, love how the cover introduces the two main characters and hints at their respective searches while showcasing the beautiful historic setting!

Thank you for that TERRIFIC tour! 

Scenario: I know you love visiting schools and meeting with readers. Imagine you’re booktalking Ezra and the Mouse: The Search for Lafayette to 4th graders. What do you share with them?

Victoria: You’re right, Mr. Schu. I’m counting the days until I can visit schools again this fall!

Now for the booktalk…

Ezra and the Mouse: The Search for Lafayette is a historical adventure starring a 12-year-old boy and a mouse. It’s inspired by real people and events in my own hometown of Duxbury, Massachusetts in the summer of 1822.

Ezra Weston IV is the youngest son of a famous shipbuilding family. But he’s left out because he suffers from painful flare-ups of rheumatism – a disease that wasn’t well understood back then. And if his mother had her way, he’d never leave his room.

On the sidelines at the launch of the Westons’ newest ship, Ezra witnesses something suspicious. But no one believes him.

So he decides to dig into the mystery on his own. And ultimately discovers shocking news about the biggest superstar in America at the time, the Marquis de Lafayette.

Meanwhile, mouse Bertie and his sister Olive are almost trampled by Ezra’s father’s horse at the ship launch. When Ezra “rescues” them, they don’t see it that way. They’ve been captured!

Trapped in an old birdcage in Ezra’s room, they are desperate to return to their family. But Olive’s leg is injured. And as Bertie looks for ways to escape, he worries that she won’t be able to join him.

And time is running out. Bertie and Olive’s family is aboard the ship, soon bound for France and the 500-lb cheese, Lafayette.

Get the connection?

Now remember I said the story was inspired by real events. So you might be asking yourself, what about that 500-lb cheese?

Well, it was real. All of it was real! And you can find out for yourself when the book comes out on September 14th.

Please finish the following sentence starters.

Duxbury is more than home to me. It’s where my childhood stories live. It’s where I’m making new stories with my family. It’s a part of me.

The Duxbury Free Library is where I fell in love with Beverly Cleary’s books – particularly The Mouse and The Motorcycle. It’s where I started dreaming of someday creating a storybook mouse of my own.

And because this town has my heart, I’m excited to donate all proceeds from Ezra and the Mouse to the Duxbury Rural & Historical Society, which is publishing the book, as a tribute to all Duxbury has given to me.

Bertie’s story parallels Ezra’s in so many ways – and not only because their individual searches end with Lafayette!

The mouse and the boy both feel the need to prove themselves. They want to show their families that they belong. That their voices deserve to be heard and listened to. That they can even become leaders.

And doesn’t every reader love to root for the underdog?

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about the illustrator, Walter Swartz. He previously illustrated three lift-the-flap and pop-up books back in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as the classic cookbook, Visions of Sugarplums by Mimi Sheraton.

And, he’s my uncle!

When we were growing up, everything was more fun when Uncle Walter was visiting. He spent most summer weekends with us going to the beach and sailing in Duxbury, creating memories we’ll treasure forever.

Being able to collaborate with him on this book and bring our love for this town and its stories to life makes Ezra and the Mouse all the more precious to me.

Thank you, Victoria!

Look for Ezra and the Mouse: The Search for Lafayette on September 14th, 2021.

Victoria J. Coe is the author of Fenway and Hattie - the Global Read Aloud for Early Readers, Amazon Teacher’s Pick, and a “One School, One Book” favorite. She is also the author of three Fenway and Hattie sequels, as well as Make Way for Fenway!, a forthcoming chapter book series from Penguin Young Readers. A native of Duxbury, Massachusetts, she lives with her family in Duxbury and Boston. Visit her online at victoriajcoe.com.


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