Pothole Problems? Celebrate Solutions with Scooter Mouse
Always interested in civic affairs, radio talk-show host Fern Crossley contacted Alice Rhea Mitchell in 2018 to see a novel pothole with a decorated dead tree branch in its center. Fern insisted Scooter Mouse needed to have a role in the pothole problem, now recognized each year with National Pothole Day on January 15. Mitchell drafted, revised, edited, and rewrote the text of Scooter Mouse and the Pothole over a two-year span. With grace and finesse, artist Sheryl K. Perry employed collage and watercolor techniques to add depth and dimension to the illustrations. Then Scooter Mouse added some intrigue and some ink.
In comparing her illustrations of Mitchell’s other works, Perry noted: “Previous adventures of Scooter Mouse as well as My Mama’s Closet and Our Game were told in pure watercolors. Scooter Mouse and the Pothole seemed to be the perfect opportunity to play with mixed media and to combine textures with collage elements. Some of the illustrations are in watercolor only; or they may have accents of collage, such as the picture of Miss Mattie talking to Scooter Mouse.
“Some of the illustrations are a combination of collage accented with acrylic paint or watercolor. Collage papers included scrapbook paper, mailing envelopes, magazines, tissue paper, construction paper, old sheet music, and candy wrappers. Each illustration was sketched on 140 lb. watercolor paper and then painted or enhanced with collage applied. Golden regular gel medium was used as an adhesive. The collage had to dry thoroughly before paint was applied. The page with red and blue lights on the tree was collaged, then painted with watercolors, and then collaged again with various green papers added as leaves. The lights were connected with a green gel pen. The end pages were collaged first and then painted over with watercolor.”
Scooter Mouse and the Pothole joins Scooter Mouse and the Teddy Bears, Scooter Mouse and Rabbit, Scooter Mouse Finds the Library, and Scooter Mouse Finds Christmas as a set dedicated to Mattie Rials, affectionately known as “Miss Mattie.” A portion of the proceeds from the sale of these books, which are published by the Magnolia Gazette, supports the Miss Mattie Foundation.
According to the dedication page in Scooter Mouse Finds Christmas: “After directing her own kindergarten, Mattie Rials joined the Pike-Amite-Walthall Library in McComb, MS, as children’s librarian. With joy and love, she has promoted literacy for generations of children through Story Hour with the assistance of Scooter Mouse. Representing Pike-Amite-Walthall Library, Scooter Mouse won The John Cotton Dana Award from the American Library Association for outstanding library public relations in 1976. In addition, Miss Mattie received the first Kaigler-Lamont Award presented by the Children’s Book Festival in 1998. Her Wednesday Friends also won national recognition as the longest-running program for the developmentally and intellectually disabled. Established in her honor, The Miss Mattie Foundation offers competitive college scholarships to deserving high school seniors from the tri-county area.”
Recently, Mitchell and Rials signed copies of Scooter Mouse and the Pothole at Lemuria Books. The following Sunday the Clarion-Ledger listed Scooter Mouse and the Pothole as the number 2 book for children and youth in the column “Mississippi Reads.”