The moose and the mouse have made new friends in the land Down Under, and Coeur d’Alene’s kids are invited to join in the fun.
"Mudgy and Millie" author Susan Nipp and illustrator Charles Reasoner on Tuesday visited several Coeur d'Alene Schools to launch their new adventure series starring the eponymous duo, as well as gift the latest book, "Mudgy and Millie Adventures: Australia," to kindergarten through third-grade class libraries.
"I would never think that I would ever meet the creator of Mudgy Moose,” said Atlas Elementary third-grader Nick Joy.
At Atlas, Nipp read the book to students in third grade and younger during a special assembly in the gym. She taught them the "Billabong Bash" song, and afterward, Reasoner showed the students how to draw Millie Mouse.
“I want to draw Millie in my mom’s classroom. She works here, Mrs. Joy,” Nick said. “He’s already drawn it, so I’m going to try and copy him. Or maybe I can make a boomerang, a real boomerang."
The new adventure series comes at the 10-year anniversary of the release of the original book, which has become a beloved part of Coeur d'Alene culture as guests and locals alike have found themselves following the Mudgy and Millie map and stopping for photos along the way.
"Their faces light up when they hear the story, and then singing the song, they all just join right in," Nipp said. "They were having so much fun. And for them to take books home or have them in their classroom so it just becomes a part of their little lives, and then they become readers, that’s what it’s all about."
The first-graders especially were delighted by the visit because they were surprised with their own hardback copies of the book to take home and keep forever, a gift that all first-graders in the district are receiving this week. The Atlas kids cried with joy; many of them immediately opened the books to have a closer look at the colorful illustrations.
“How do we feel? Honored. The kids are great. I just live off their joy,” Reasoner said. "We love being here and the kids love reading, and we’re all about reading."
The new Australian adventure teaches young readers a few new words and phrases, such as "G'day" and "Aussie" (pronounced ah-zee). It also introduces them to the interesting critters found Down Under, such as the platypus, the emu, the echidna and other furry, spiky and feathered friends.
"I liked the koala and the big bird," said third-grader Lily Havercroft.
First grade teacher Karen Adams said she loves the "Mudgy and Millie" story because of its local setting.
However, now that the mouse and moose are globe trotters, they'll be bringing some of North Idaho with them around the world.
“It's awesome, especially because books open doors for students,” Adams said. “We set the foundation for reading in first grade, so it’s important."
The gifts of books for Coeur d'Alene's first-graders and elementary schools were made possible by the Coeur d'Alene Library Foundation, Figpickels Toy Emporium and the Innovia Foundation as well as the generosity of the Nipp family.