The idea for Angela Maskey’s first children’s book practically fell into her lap.
She had been working at the Jim Hudson Lexus dealership when a rabbit fell out of a car that had been brought in for service. The technician took the injured rabbit to Maskey.
“They always brought me the critters,” said Maskey, whose first book Amanda: A Rabbit Rescue Tale came out of her experience of nurturing the animal back to health.
The rabbit was in bad shape when the technician found her. Maskey took her to the only veterinarian in town who treated rabbits. Surgery followed by rest, medication and some TLC were part of the vet’s orders, along with one strict warning — don’t get attached to it.
“She was very clear. This is not a pet, and she’s not meant to be a pet,” Maskey said. “The vet said ‘she’s very scared of you.’”
Caring for the animal was a pricey undertaking, and the pharmacist at Publix, who was named Amanda, helped Maskey with some of the expenses. Maskey named the book after her.
Maskey was fine with the vet’s words of warning. She’d seen wild rabbits in her neighborhood, so Maskey knew that the rabbit would be with others after she released her. When the rabbit was well enough, Maskey left her cage open one day. The rabbit left and never returned.
At the heart of her book is “a great message about kindness to animals and letting animals live in their habitat,” she said.
Maskey knew that to bring her book to life she needed an artist who could share her vision.
She was struck by drawings she’d seen in a book by Retired Brig. Gen. Jeff Foley.
“They had the perfect aesthetic,” she said.
Through Foley, she met Bill Wood, who works at Fort Gordon, but has made a name for himself as an editorial cartoonist for local newspapers.
“As soon as I saw his ideas, it was exactly right. The only thing I said was make the rabbit look like a girl. He gave her eyelashes,” she said. “He knocked it out of the park with his drawings.”
Amanda: A Rabbit Rescue is the first book Wood has illustrated, but it’s not the first time he’s used his art with children in mind.
A children’s pastor from 2007 to 2015, he often used drawings to bring his lessons to life.
“It was a neat experience,” he said. “I developed a relationship with my art style and the children.”
Not only does Amanda: A Rabbit Rescue focus on kindness to animals, but it also helps people. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the books goes to benefit Mission 22, an organization that supports veterans who are healing emotionally, said Maskey.
Amanda: A Rabbit Rescue is available at the Book Tavern and at Maskey’s website.
Charmain Z. Brackett is the publisher of Augusta Good News. Sign up for the newsletter here.