From shaping spiritual lives to making children into dreamers, Sequim author Gene Bradbury is right where he wants to be.
The retired Lutheran pastor of 40 years recently finished his first children’s picture book, “The Mouse with Wheels in His Head.”
He hosts a book signing Saturday, April 9, to benefit Sequim High School student college scholarships at Dungeness Valley Lutheran Church.
Bradbury calls the book his retirement project. For the past 18 months, he and Port Townsend illustrator Victoria Wickell-Stewart, who depicted the book’s scenes in watercolor, developed his concept around a brave and exuberant mouse.
The story follows Fergus, an optimistic mouse who lives near the construction of the first Ferris wheel at the World’s Fair: Columbian Exposition in 1893.
Fergus decides he wants to be the first mouse to ride on the new attraction, but he must overcome his family’s doubts, a dog named Masher and being a fraction of the size of those around him.
“Fergus is a fun character. He enjoys life. He wants to do something so badly that he doesn’t give up,” Bradbury said.
Writing isn’t new for Bradbury. He’s had original poems and short stories published in various magazines and publications throughout his career.
A passion for amusement park rides didn’t factor into Bradbury’s writing at all.
“I’m not particularly fond of Ferris wheels,” Bradbury said. “I’m actually afraid of heights.”
The idea for “The Mouse with Wheels in His Head” actually came from reading “The Devil in the White City” by Eric Larson, which centers around the 1893 World’s Fair. A lot of research went into “The Mouse with Wheels in His Head,” Bradbury said. Wickell-Stewart used a map as an antique portfolio from
the expo for a two-page spread.
“The Mouse with Wheels in His Head” is a reference to George “The Man with Wheels in His Head” Ferris who invented the infamous ride.
Bradbury attributes most, if not all, of his writing to reading. He and his wife, Debbie, love collecting and reading books and have thousands of them at home.
“Of one thing you can be certain, the day will include some form of writing and reading,” he said. “It will always begin by opening a book and end in bed by closing a book.”
He finds his greatest joy to be in writing for children as he continues to create stories and poems for children’s magazines.
Bradbury continues to write daily and is beginning his second children’s picture book with Wickell-Stewart. It tentatively is called “The Listening Stone.”
He hopes to use sales from “The Mouse with Wheels in His Head” to finance it. His current book is geared to ages 4-8, whereas “Listening Stone” is intended for children 7-10.
Bradbury said Fergus’ journey to the Ferris wheel will appeal to children who like adventure and parents who like to read to their youngsters.
For the book signing event, Bradbury will donate $4 of each $12 book sale to student college scholarships. The scholarships started last fall and are for future high school seniors who attend the church.
“Our church is interested in education,” said event organizer Jan Webb.
Bradbury’s book is available at Dungeness Valley Lutheran Church, his website www.genebradbury.com, the Writer’s Workshoppe in Port Townsend, Nautilus Books in Port Gamble and in the near future at Sequim retailers.
Reach Matthew Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org.