'Mimi and Maty to the Rescue' Hits Big Online
Children’s book inspired by real-life hero benefits animals in need.
Since 2008, Mimi Ausland’s charitable and interactive website, Freekibble.com, has blossomed. Users have helped donate 675,946,490 pieces of kibble to shelter animals to date, through a quick click of the button and helpful partnership with pet food supplier Halo.
Ausland, a native of Bend, Oregon, has loved animals since she was a toddler, says her mother, Brooke Smith. At a young age, she began keeping a journal documenting all of the animals – big and small – she encountered and tried to rescue.
Mimi is now 15 years old and taller than her mother, jokes Smith. But Smith’s new self-published book, ‘Mimi and Maty to the Rescue,’ offers a return to Mimi’s younger days, and an appeal to children who similarly can’t resist a cute animal in need of some help.
Smith first released the fun, snappy book – with bright and clever illustrations by Alli Arnold – as a free e-book online in June 2011. By the end of the month, more than 45,000 people had downloaded the 78-page chapter book, geared towards children aged six through nine.
“I didn’t know what to expect, and there was just an outpouring of support,” Smith explained to Zootoo in a phone interview. “I just really hoped that the spirit of Mimi, the can-do, kind and compassionate spirit would resonate.”
So far, it seems to have hit home.
‘Mimi and Maty’ tells the story of an unstoppable duo, Mimi, and her dog, Maty, who only happens to have three legs. Maty’s character in the book was inspired by the real-life Maty, a shelter dog who, like her character, doesn’t let her lack of one leg get her down.
“She’s so awesome and has become Mimi’s mentor at the shelter,” Smith said.
In ‘Mimi and Maty,’ Mimi’s aunt sends her a notebook so she can keep track of all of the animals she rescues during one summer. Mimi doesn’t have to spend long waiting to spring into action as an official animal rescuer – she’s soon alerted to a pet rat, Roger, that’s slipped out of his cage.
Mimi and Maty quickly rise to the occasion, learning much about rats as they go on their way hunting for Roger.
Smith has since self-published the book in hard copy and says she has been approached by different publishers. She hopes to make this book one of several in a series. Each book will focus on a different animal that Mimi and Maty set out to rescue, driven by this overarching idea: “Kids want to hear a fun story and be motivated to do something about it,” Smith explained.
‘Mimi and Maty’ will do nothing if not inspire children and adults alike – the fictional tale is only made sweeter by the knowledge that Mimi herself once kept a pet rescue journal and continues to help shelter pets through her work with Freekibble.com, which her parents both help to maintain.
But it strays clear of having a preachy edge. Rescuing a pet is made to seem like an exciting game, full of mystery and wonder. And the book’s quirky language – echoed by the illustrations – is right on with what kids are bound to find approachable and enjoyable reading material.
What’s even better is that once they put down this book, chances are they will be encouraged to pick up a blank book and start doing some writing of their own – just like Mimi.
For each book sold, Halo will be donating five meals to the select shelters Freekibble.com partners with. There’s also a plan to donate books to kids in schools, which Smith says they are in the process of finalizing.
For more information on ‘Mimi and Maty,’ visit www.freekibble.com/mimiandmaty.
Photo courtesy of Freekibble.com.
What do you think of Mimi and Maty’s story? What other ways do you think children can learn about animal rescue? Tell us below!
4 years ago
Congratulations on the growing success of your book! I have been following your freekibble.com website for a long time now and think it is wonderful and so inspiring for all of us who want to help in some way. As a child, I was much like Mimi, as I know so many others are, having an inborn drive to help animals and be involved in any way possible with their care and well being. Great job of bringing such a positive message to the world. I hope it reaches far and makes a difference. I think it will.
4 years ago
Books, internet and real life experince is the way to teach kids about animal rescue and shelters I know that when I have kids and they ask for a dog or a cat for the first time if I say yes I will make sure they know about adoption and tell them that they have to adopt their first pet and that they can't just pick the first one they see to look around and see who they like best and who likes them best.
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