Kids, grown-ups, soccer fans and anyone who loves spunky mice with big dreams are invited to celebrate the launch of local author Richard Seidman's book "World Cup Mouse."
Seidman will sign books and answer questions at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 24, at Tree House Books in Ashland.
The book will debut just in time for the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament in June. Seidman, whose books for adults were published by a traditional publisher, launched an online Kickstarter campaign to raise the money he needed to self-publish his children's story and release it before the World Cup this summer.
Seidman has loved soccer since he was a child growing up in Brooklyn, N.Y. He says two things inspired the book.
"When I was 10, I saw [famous Brazilian soccer player] Pelé play in an exhibition game in New York and it was remarkable to witness such greatness in person," he says. "And I love mouse stories such as 'Stuart Little,' 'Doctor De Soto,' 'Tale of Despereaux' and 'Norman the Doorman.' It seemed fun to combine a mouse hero with a soccer context."
The book's main character is a little French mouse named Louie LaSurie, who dreams of playing for France in the World Cup. Though most humans cringe at the sight of him and most other mice tease him, the determined Louie practices soccer with a dried pea and studies every aspect of the game in order to realize his dream. "Where there's a mouse, there's a way," Louie is fond of saying. Still, he's young and plagued with self-doubts and has a quick temper, so nothing is guaranteed.
Louie makes friends, enemies and learns a few lessons along the way. Seidman says he loves the absurdity of Louie's lofty dreams. "At the same time, I admire his crazy determination and chutzpah. He inspires me, even as he makes me laugh."
I won't spoil the ending by revealing whether Louie achieves his goals, but readers can expect the journey to contain loads of suspense and humor.
Louie's story is funny and sweet in a way with which both kids and adults can easily connect. Both my children read the story and found themselves cheering for Louie, his friends and even France. Seidman has an easygoing style that doesn't talk down to his young readers. There's a message, of course, but it's not in any way heavy-handed.
Seidman says he didn't write the story with an overt message in mind, but he hopes readers will take from it a sense of delight, laughter and the spirit of play. Quoting a wise, old mouse who advises Louie LaSurie, Seidman adds, "It doesn't matter what anyone thinks of you. It doesn't matter if you're a hero or a fool or even if you're not good at it. It only matters that you pursue what you love with all your heart and try to become better."
"World Cup Mouse" has chapters and is aimed at readers age 7 to 10, a demographic sure to enjoy the cheerful illustrations by artist Ursula Andrejczuk. Seidman, an ardent soccer fan, will donate a percentage of the profits of each book sold to organizations that support youth soccer around the world, as well as the Portland-based nonprofit Friends of the Trees.
Tree House books is located on the Ashland Plaza at 15 N. Main St., Ashland. For more information about the book signing, call 541-482-9616.
For more information about World Cup Mouse and the author, visit www.WorldCupMouse.com.
Angela Decker is a freelance writer in Ashland and can be reached at email@example.com.