I first met Elliott (although I didn't know his name at the time) in a tunnel entrance to the El Coll Metro station in Barcelona, Spain. In general, the tunnel and the station were spotless but a discourteous litterbug had thrown a small pile of food trash next to a waste bin at the tunnel entrance. Since lots of people use the metro day and night, I wondered if a mouse would be brave (or hungry) enough to enter the brightly lit tunnel and if so, how and when?
Which got me thinking, what is it like to be a mouse in a big city? Some places are scary of course but maybe other places are fun, friendly, exciting, tasty or just plain interesting. What if I could see the world through the eyes of a mouse? What if I could think and feel like a mouse? What if I could show a mouse's world through photographs? Would this be entertaining? Insightful? Imaginative? How is a mouse's world different (or the same as) mine? Would the images be interesting and aesthetically pleasing? Would children enjoy creating their own storylines for Elliott's adventures? After exploring these questions with children, parents and other artists, the answer seems to be yes so I created this book. I hope you and your children enjoy exploring the city with Elliott as much as I have.
Elliott the Mouse is named after Elliott Erwitt, one of my favorite photographers, whose images often make me laugh and then think. His 1974 photograph of Felix, Gladys and Rover was a major inspiration for this series.
You may have noticed that there is no text with the photographs. This is not because I couldn't think of anything to write -- quite the opposite. I originally assumed that I would describe the reason why Elliott would find each object, character or scene interesting. However, two of my wonderful nieces, Anna and Jessica, have exceptionally bright and imaginative children and generously agreed to preview a mock-up of the book and share their thoughts and reactions. To my great delight (but not surprise), the storylines created by my young collaborators were far more interesting and imaginative than mine and, even better, often varied from reader to reader. For example, some imagined that Elliott would find the famous Boston Public Garden's '"Ducklings" scary while others imagined that Elliott was happily playing with his pals in the park. It became clear that "contaminating" the photographs with my own storyline would be counterproductive. So, thanks infinity to Henry, Claire, James and Emmett, my wonderful co-creators, whose contributions were more valuable than they will ever know.
The portrayal of Elliott's character was inspired by Garth Williams' drawings of "Stuart Little" and the animation of Biggie Cheese in the "Barnyard" movie. First, I drew Elliott on paper and scanned the image to a computer. I then used Paint Tool SAI to add colors, shadows and bling.