by Sarah Dillard
Mouse Scouts took a long time to write. It started as a picture book, spent some time as a graphic novel and finally found its place as a chapter book.
In the beginning they weren't even scouts. There was just Violet and Tigerlily, two mice who were best of friends but very opposite. I loved the characters and wrote many different versions of their story, but something just wasn’t working. One day I was talking about it with my agent, the fabulous Lori Nowicki. She said that they really needed something to do; just being best friends who were opposite really wasn't quite enough to sustain a story. We bounced some ideas off of each other, and then one of us, I can't even remember if it was me or Lori, said MOUSE SCOUTS! From that point on, that was what they were.
So before writing Mouse Scouts I felt that I really had to do some research about what scouting was all about. I got a hold of the current Girl Scout Handbook and Badge book and read it cover to cover. On a visit to my husband's parents, we found his old Webolos and Wolf Scout handbooks. I felt like I was starting to get a grasp of scouting but something was missing. Then one day we were at a flea market and I found the exact same Girl Scout manual of my sisters that I had loved. All of my early memories of dreaming of being a Girl Scout came back.
The art for Mouse Scouts is black and white, except for the covers. This was something new for me, but I thoroughly enjoyed working on it. I started with pencil drawings, using water soluble graphite pencils. I love how you can go into the drawing with a damp brush and get wonderful gray tones. Then I put the drawings into photoshop to clean them up a little and make them richer. It has been fun playing with working digitally and it turned out to be a godsend for me. Soon after I started on the art for the first book, my mother became ill. I found myself dividing my time between my home in Vermont and Massachusetts caring for my mother. Working digitally meant that I could just pick up and go at any time and set up shop where ever I happened to be.