From Beatrix Potter to Disney the world loves adventurous anthropomorphic characters but, the greatest air balloon harvest mouse rescue is surely Judy Brook's Tim Mouse.  

Tim Mouse with model baskets and Tim Mouse himself.  Photograph © Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books

It's harvest time and the harvest mice face imminent danger; the farmer is cutting corn and there are too many dogs and cats for the mice to make a safe escape from the field.  Its okay though, Tim Mouse and the other country-side animals are quite resourceful. Tim blows up a big red balloon, hops in a basket attached to the bottom and with the help of Robin, he saves the day in the air balloon.  Bravery, recycling and airborne adventure - what more could one ask of a mouse?

It's a simple adventure story but the process of creating a book like Tim Mouse is, of course, not simple at all. 

Judy Brook's original artwork with the book Tim Mouse. Photograph © Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books

Tim Mouse is the first in a series of Tim Mouse's adventures written and illustrated by Judy Brook. At Seven Stories we have a significant Judy Brook collection which includes drafts, dummy books and final artwork. This range of material is great for demonstrating the development of story and characters from draft to printed book.  

In the image below you can see successive spreads from rough pencil sketches to the final artwork with the same spread from the book.  These three images only represent a small proportion of the Tim Mouse material - we have another two dummy books, sketches and alternative artwork as well as a full spread of final artwork. 

Ideas don't come fully formed and perfect and this collection shows that the creation of a children's book is a process.  Its sometimes easy to forget that such hard work goes into children's books and what may start as a few scribbled lines on a piece of paper can become a beloved story. Here at Seven Stories we find that idea encouraging and we like to encourage everyone to keep on drawing and writing - who knows who you might create! 

Unbound dummy book (JB/01/05/01/02), final art (JB/01/05/05) and Tim Mouse book. Photograph © Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books

This creative process isn't necessarily linear and it's most definitely not the same for everyone.  Brook's is just one of many illustrators' collections that we hold and shows just one approach to creating a children's book. 

Below you can see some of the images that didn't make it into the final artwork of Tim Mouse.  Another important lesson we can take from this collection is that you don't have to keep everything you create, its okay to make mistakes and to change your mind.  These drawings also show a development from her first rough sketches with notes (in the GIF above), to more detailed graphite drawings that focus on character. 

Photograph © Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books

Photograph © Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books

As well as archival material we have models of characters. This means that we have an archive box full of tiny mice - something I'm sure not many archives can claim. 

Its like a little mouse nest © Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Book.

The mice are quite fragile with very long fine tails, they're hand painted and made from gypsum and wood. The models are a little bit of a mystery to us, it is unclear why they were created or whether they date from the creation of the books.

There are also three air balloon baskets with minute details from sandbags, ropes, to real metal anchors. One even includes Tim Mouse watching over the side. 

Tim Mouse in his balloon. Photograph © Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Book.

Like the whole Judy Brook collection these models are intricately and carefully worked.  What I adore most about this collection is the delicacy of Brook's drawings, so the next picture has nothing to do with air balloons, its just a tiny tiny cow cut-out paper clipped to a final spread. 

A tiny cow from a final illustration, its not attached to the main work so has been paper-clipped in place. © Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books
The mice aren't the only models in the Judy Brook collection, we also have a wooden boat