Anthony Gonzalez Staff Reporter
December 16, 2013
The story of a mouse in a manger has shown its might this Christmas season.
Sarah Martin Byrd, author of “The Manger Mouse,” said that the sale of the book has exceeded expectations and she only has a handful remaining on her.
According to Amazon.com, only one book remains in stock.
“Right now people can visit my website at www.sarahmartinbyrd.com and I can see what’s remaining,” she said.
Byrd indicated that she originally ordered more than 1,000 books.
Byrd authored the story of a baby rodent named Matty. According to the book, all Matty wants to do is rest near the warmth of his mother. Yet getting in the way is Jesus, who has other plans for the rodent.
As the story of Christmas unfolds, Matty ultimately has to make a decision on if he’ll surrender to his own needs or the will of baby Jesus.
“I can honestly say that I didn’t think the entire first run would sell the way it has,” said Byrd. The author was showcasing a handful of remaining books at the 2013 Winter Wine and Craft Festival in Elkin.
Illustrator Debbie Wall said, “I am so humbled to see it all go down. When someone stops to look at the book, comments on the illustrations and buys it, all I can say is that each moment is a wow moment.”
Wall said that it is tough to choose her favorite image in the book, but if she had to it would be image on the rear cover of the book.
“I just feel the image shows a complete bond between a mother and child. The embrace is special, even if it’s of mice,” said Wall.
According to Byrd, the inspiration for “The Manger Mouse” was her granddaughter, Emma, who in now 9 years old. When Emma was 5, Byrd indicated that she wrote the story for her.
“I wanted to introduce her to some truths about when Jesus was born,” said Byrd. “He was not born on Dec. 25, but probably in late fall, and he was not born in a stable made from wood, but in a cave carved out of the side of a mountain. But most importantly, I want children who read this book to start asking about salvation. At the end of the book the question arises: “Did I save baby Jesus, or did He save me?’
Wall indicated that she got her start in illustrating after a teacher urged her to grab a box of pastels.
“That’s how it all started,” said Wall. “I went from there.”
Wall illustrated the manager out of stone slabs, not wood.
“In order to be accurate for its time, stone surrounded the manger during the time of Jesus,” Wall insisted.
“And as you can see, the stone has a crack in its corner. That’s how the mouse was able to enter and exit,” chucked Byrd.
The duo indicated how they came together for this collaboration.
In October of 2010 Byrd heard that an old classmate’s mother had passed away.
“Debbie Wall and I used to spend the night with one another in elementary school and stomp around in the creek below my house. Of course I would go and pay my respects to her and her family after the passing of her mother,” continued Byrd.
At the funeral home Debbie and Byrd were talking about old times and where life had taken them. Debbie now lives in Richmond, Va. She does portraits of animals and sketches of old barns and such. Byrd talked about her mouse tale. Debbie offered to email Byrd some of her work.
“In a few days I got an email from her and attached were some pictures that she had drawn. I fell in love with the warmth of her sketches,” revealed Byrd.
The connection was made, and a mouse may have been responsible for that, too.
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