Secrets of the Big Hungry Bear
by Audrey and Don Wood
Why did we use a mouse for the main character in our book, The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear?
When our son, Bruce, was young, he loved animals as much as Audrey does. Whenever he saw an animal, even a bug struggling in a stream, he would not pass by, but always stopped to save it by putting it back on dry ground.
Bruce wanted a dog very badly, but it was not the right timing for us. Audrey recalled having a guinea pig when she was a child, so she took Bruce to a pet store where, much to their disappointment, they were all out of guinea pigs. Bruce wandered around and found a cute baby mouse in a cage all by itself. The owner explained it was not for sale as a pet, because it was a feeder mouse, a mouse to be given to other animals to eat.
Audrey bought the mouse, they took it home, and made it a member of the family. The little mouse was provided with a very large fish tank filled with toys to chew on, a little bed, and a running exercise wheel. Bruce loved his little mouse, and Audrey and Don fell in love with it, too.
Soon Don began to draw sketches of the mouse, using her as a model. (Don’s sketches, from 36 years ago, are scattered around this essay.)
And there is the secret. The love we all shared for the little gray mouse, and the sketches of the mouse playing on Don’s drawing board, inspired us to make our little mouse into . . . THE Little Mouse, the star of our book, The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear.