In 2007 the Coeur d’Alene Public Library was settling into a new building. Local children’s author Susan Nipp was thinking about ways to benefit the library and its newly expanded role in the community.
One year later, in September 2008, Coeur d’Alene welcomed two new representatives for the city, delighting children and adults as they played hide-and-seek in the heart of the community in a new book, “Mudgy & Millie.”
“As a child, I loved hiking Tubbs Hill, playing in City Park, and wandering through downtown,” Nipp said. “I wanted to share this love of Coeur d'Alene with children so I needed to think of a way to get kids to explore our town. Thus, the idea of a hide-and-seek game with Mudgy Moose looking around the downtown area for Millie Mouse seemed to be a great way to intrigue kids to follow their trail.
Since then nearly 20,000 copies of the book, written by Nipp, and illustrated by Charles Reasoner, have been sold. The author signed her royalties over to the Coeur d’Alene Public Library Foundation and its sales have generated about $90,000 for the library.
"Mudgy and Millie have been wonderful ambassadors for the Coeur d'Alene Library, and we are celebrating that with a Fifth Birthday Party,” said Ruth Pratt, Executive Director of the Library Foundation. “They also make other appearances throughout the community, and now have their own ‘Mudgymobile’ decorated with art work from the book."
On Sunday, Sept. 8, beginning at 2 p.m., the fifth annual Birthday Celebration for Mudgy Moose and Millie Mouse will be offered at the library, 702 E. Front Ave., in the Community Room on the lower level. (Participants are advised to use the parking lots behind and south of City Hall.)
The celebration includes a reading of the book by Nipp, a special appearance by Mudgy Moose and Millie Mouse, a sing-along of the “Mudgy & Millie Song,” book signing by Nipp and sculptor Terry Lee, and, of course, birthday cake compliments of The Coeur d’Alene Resort.
Figpickel’s Toy Emporium, that has for the past several years served as the publisher of “Mudgy & Millie,” also has a special treat planned. Some lucky child will win a “Figpickels Tower of Toys.”
And the “Mudgy & Millie” story is more than just the book.
Nipp, co-creator of the “WeeSing” series of books and music, has long been an advocate of active recreation for children and families. She also envisioned a walking trail through downtown Coeur d’Alene following the path her characters took during their hide-and-seek game. With the cooperation of the Coeur d’Alene Parks Department, she helped to establish the 2.5-mile “Mudgy Trail” with signage featuring pages from the book.
Inspired by the book “Make Way for Ducklings,” by Robert McCloskey, and the bronze duckling statues in Boston, Nipp also wanted to see public art created based on her book.
She worked with Coeur d’Alene wildlife sculptor Terry Lee who created five life-size bronzes that were placed at significant sites along the trail: at the base of Tubbs Hill where the story begins; adjacent to the library, on Sherman Avenue at Third Street, in the City Park beside the Fort Sherman Playground, and at Independence Point on the shore of Lake Coeur d’Alene.
The bronzes were funded by community donors – recognized by plaques at the base of each statue. The statues were installed with the support of the Coeur d’Alene Arts Commission.
Patrons who need accommodation to participate in library programs or services are asked to contact the staff prior to the activity by calling 208-769-2315.