New book: Benjamin and Bumper to the Rescue, by Molly Coxe ’81, photographs by Olivier Toppin (BraveMouse Books)
The author: The author and illustrator of 10 other children’s books, Coxe loved to draw whimsical characters as a child and wrote her thesis for the English department on the synergy between the illustrations and text in Oliver Twist. She made the stuffed animal characters and designed the miniature sets for Benjamin and Bumper to the Rescue, the debut book of the tiny publishing company she and her husband, Craig Canine ’81, started last year. “Our headquarters,” she notes, “is a one-room studio Craig built in the woods outside of our house on Orcas Island,” north of Seattle.
The plot: In this story of bravery, adventure, and friendship, Benjamin Middlemouse lives with his mother in a cozy wooden wardrobe in a small child’s bedroom. His best friend, Bumper the elephant, lives nearby on a bed. When Benjamin’s mother is late coming home from running errands, he and Bumper head out to find her — through a garden and up to the tower of a hungry cat, Sir Pouncelot.
Review: Publishers Weekly
wrote: “Creatively composed photographs are the highlight of this distinctive picture book. … [The photos] overflow with mouse-size toys, matchstick ladders, and other delicate details that give the book the feel of a very large epic on a very small scale.”
In her own words: “Creating books in the early-reader genre is about whittling a story down to its essence. The illustrations have to do a lot of work because you are limited to words of only one or two syllables, and you can only have a line or two of text on the page.”