- Associated Press - Monday, January 9, 2017

MCCOMB, Miss. (AP) - A new book about the elusive Scooter Mouse is already proving to be a bestseller, before it even gets publicized.

“Yesterday I sold about 100 copies out of my car,” Sarah Mangrum said after the book’s release.

“Scooter Mouse and the?Teddy Bears” tells the story of the well-known McComb library mouse and his keeper, children’s librarian “Miss Mattie” Rials. The 32-page, hardcover, color picture book sells for $20 plus tax, with all proceeds to benefit the Miss Mattie Foundation scholarship program.

Alice Rhea Mitchell of Magnolia is the author. Former McComb resident Sheryl K. Perry of San Antonio, Texas, is the watercolorist. Melanie Thornton of the Enterprise-Journal did the graphic design.

The Magnolia Gazette Publishing Corp. published the book, which is available at the Flower Nook, 1406 White St., McComb, or online at www.missmattie.org. A reception and book-signing will be held 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 11 at McComb Library.

The story is a fictional account of what happens at the library’s annual teddy bear sleepover, where children bring their stuffed bears for a bedtime storyhour, then leave them overnight, rejoining them in the morning for breakfast.

“This is what happens when Miss Mattie leaves,” said Mangrum, who is Rials’ granddaughter. “Scooter Mouse and the teddy bears have a field day.”

Miss Mattie, Scooter pleased.

Rials admitted she was unaware of what all Scooter and the bears did during the sleepover.

“This last one we had, there were pizza boxes out,” she said. “The first time we were there, there were Snickers wrappers everywhere, giving me the idea that all didn’t go peacefully and quietly like I thought it would.”

Rials said she’s tickled with the book.

“It’s just very nicely done, and the illustrator did a beautiful job on that,” she said. “I am so humbled and appreciate so very much all the work people have done on that. It raises money for the foundation.”

She wasn’t the only one who was pleased.

“Scooter Mouse is just delighted,” Rials reported. “Scooter Mouse has washed his motorcycle. He got some new tires for Christmas. We are concerned here at the library that his ego doesn’t rise.”

At a reporter’s request, Rials asked the mouse for his thoughts on the book and resulting fanfare.

“His comment was, ‘Aw, shucks,’ ” she said.

Written on a rainy day

Mangrum said the idea for the book was hatched when McComb radio personality Fern?Crossley contacted Pike-Amite-Walthall Library System director Darlene Morgan.

“Fern said, ‘Scooter Mouse needs a story book. Who could write it?’” Mangrum said.

Morgan contacted Mitchell, author of the children’s book “My Mama’s Closet.”

“Of course, I was thrilled to be asked and I accepted the challenge,” Mitchell said.

“I have always been a Miss Mattie fan ever since my children were little. Thursday morning still means story hour to me.”

Mitchell discussed various story ideas with Miss Mattie.

“One day as I left the library I noticed the poster about the teddy bear sleepover,” Mitchell said. “That idea just lingered in my brain, and I kept thinking: I only want to write about that.”

On the afternoon of Easter Sunday 2016, during a pouring rain, “I just sat down with my computer and let the story fall out of my head,” Mitchell said.

She shared it with her husband Lem, artist Perry, and library and foundation personnel, all of whom approved. Mitchell contacted Dr. Luke Lampton of the Magnolia Gazette, which published her previous book in 2013, and he agreed to publish it.

Mitchell said her goal for the book is “that it will celebrate Miss Mattie and Scooter Mouse, that it will raise interest in literacy for children of all ages, and that it will support the Miss Mattie Foundation.”

Scholarships benefit students

While the book is aimed at 4- to 7-year-olds, plenty of adults have been buying it, Mangrum said. That’s only natural since Miss Mattie has been telling stories to children across the generations.

“Scooter Mouse and Miss Mattie are just a McComb institution,” Mangrum said.

“This book is also good to introduce newcomers to her world.”

There’s something special about the little guy, after all.

“He helps to instill the imagination in children, especially as technology progresses and you find children aren’t as imaginative as they used to be,” Mangrum said.

And there’s something even more special about Miss Mattie.

“She does what she does because she loves it,”?Mangrum said. “It’s not about her. It’s about everybody else.

“With this book, it’s not about her, it’s not about Scooter, it’s about the scholarship and helping people.”

Miss Mattie scholarships help pay for students in Pike,?Amite and Walthall counties to attend any community college, college or university in Mississippi. Applications are currently being accepted. For details, see www.missmattie.org.

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