Anthony Gonzalez Staff Reporter
September 25, 2013
Did baby Jesus have an encounter with a mouse while in a manger?
Sarah Martin Byrd of Elkin thinks so. She captured the story of a baby rodent named Matty who is featured in Byrd’s newest release, “The Manger Mouse.”
All Matty the rodent wants to do is rest near the warmth of its mother. Yet Jesus may have other plans for the rodent. The story of Christmas unfolds with Matty who ultimately has to make a decision on if he’ll surrender to his own needs or the will of baby Jesus.
The book is available at Diana’s Book Store in Elkin. The book is published by by Ambassador International, Greenville, South Carolina.
According to the author, the inspiration for “The Manger Mouse” was her granddaughter, Emma who in now 9-years-old. When Emma was 5 years old, 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?’
The book is illustrated by Debbie Wall. Since writing this story a few years ago there have been times when Byrd thought she would never find an illustrator.
“I talked with several artists that I knew asking them if they’d read my story, The Manger Mouse and consider doing the illustrations. One was a tattoo artist who does beautiful work. I even sat down several times and tried to pencil the image of a mouse myself. I found out really quick that I’d better stick to words instead of trying to draw images,” wrote Byrd.
“Back in October of 2010 I heard that an old classmates 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, Virginia and is an artist. She does portraits of animals and sketches of old barns and such. 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.
Byrd is no newcomer to writing.
Her first novel is “Guardian Spirit”. The book is set in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Released September 2011 by Lucky Press, LLC, Athens, Ohio.
Her second novel is “The Color of My Heart” and it is set in the Brushy Mountains. Released November 2012 by Ambassador International, Greenville, South Carolina.
Byrd grew up in the Pleasant Ridge Community near Elkin. Byrd said she has always lived in this area.
“I attended CB Eller Elementary, and graduated from East Wilkes High School. My friend and illustrator Debbie Wall grew up in the Pleasant Hill Community and also attended CB Eller and East Wilkes. I graduated from The Institute of Children’s Literature in the early ‘90’s,” she said.
“The Pumpkin Festival is my favorite festival of the year. Of course because it’s in my hometown. I love talking to people and meeting new friends and getting caught up with old ones. There’s always a good crowd and the past two years the weather has been great,” said Byrd.
Byrd and Wall will be present at booth 36 in the Yadkin Valley Pumpkin Festival.
Reach Anthony Gonzalez at 336-835-1513 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org