Kindergartners at Flagstaff Academy Charter School gasped in awe when Cara Mentzel described her sister, who wrote a book with her recently.
Mentzel’s sister has brown hair like her, she’s older than her and a lot of people know her as the voice of Elsa in “Frozen.”
“I love ‘Frozen!’” several children yelled out.
Mentzel told the children all about writing the book “Loud Mouse” with her sister, actress and Tony Award-winning Broadway star Idina Menzel. The two have been touring the Colorado area to talk about their first children’s book, and while Idina Menzel has returned home, Cara Mentzel has a few more schools to visit.
Cara Mentzel taught and lived in Boulder most of her adult life, so she has family and many teacher friends still in the area.
Before stepping into children’s books, Cara Mentzel wrote the memoir, “Voice Lessons: A Sisters Story.” Being the teacher and writer of the family, Idina Menzel approached her sister with a message she wanted to share with young people.
“She didn’t want to be another celebrity writing a celebrity ‘book,” Cara Mentzel recalled. “But ultimately she said, ‘I think this thing that happened to me when I was young, where I was always worried about taking up too much space and being too loud and how other people were receiving me.’”
The two wanted the core message of the book to be about being yourself always, even if it makes you feel vulnerable. It took Cara Mentzel a few months to figure out how to translate that message into a children’s story, but one night she was struck with the plot for “Loud Mouse.”
The book is about a mouse named Dee — the same nickname that Cara Mentzel calls her sister — learning to use her big voice and be herself. Illustrated by Jaclyn Sinquett, the book explores emotions and fun new words with colorful and interesting art to accompany it.
On Tuesday, Cara Mentzel read her book to the Flagstaff kindergartners and helped them learn the song refrain that gets repeated by Dee throughout the book. She said it has been fun to share their book with young people again and connect with the teachers and librarians in the area.
“Sometimes when you’re in the writing process, you forget how great it’s going to be when little kids have it in their hands and they’re giggling at the joke you planned and the things you wrote,” she said.
“Loud Mouse” is out now and a book with the same characters, “Proud Mouse,” is set for release at the start of the next school year.