Rhode Islanders Jamie Michalak and Kelly Murphy team up for an enjoyable tale

Dakota Crumb, Tiny Treasure Hunter is a thrill for young readers

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Dakota Crumb, Tiny Treasure Hunter is the new book from author Jamie Michalak and illustrator Kelly Murphy. The book tells the story of Dakota Crumb, an adventurous mouse who visits a big city museum nightly, seeking artifacts to share with her friends. Most of the action takes place after dark – and with a twist or two – the book reveals a charming story. It’s a Night at the Museum-like tale, certain to put smiles on young faces.

A Barrington-based author of over 40 children’s books, Michalak shared that Crumb is targeted at readers ages three to seven, although children of all ages are sure to find it entertaining. She explains how she found inspiration for the story from characters all around her.

“My two sons were the elementary school version of The Odd Couple,” Michalak says, referencing the movie and television show about two roommates whose habits on neatness were often at polar opposites. ”Some of my characters are based on them, and Dakota Crumb is a combination of Indiana Jones and my little sister, who never met a tiny object she didn’t love.”

Providence-based illustrator Kelly Murphy captures the intent of the author, reflecting a sense of adventure and mystery. Murphy conducted her research in a somewhat non-traditional manner, feeling it was important to visualize the world from the perspective of a mouse. “I visited several museums including the Metropolitan and the Louvre and brought my camera along. Instead of taking pictures of all the beautiful artwork, I was busy kneeling in corners and squatting behind columns to get reference photos from a mouse’s point of view. I received a high number of funny looks,” Murphy jokes. Her illustrations reveal Michalak’s vision of the main character. “I wanted her to be a daredevil, but also show a smart, curious angle as well. Passion and intelligence can be a fantastic combo,” Murphy says.

“One goal for this book was to keep kids curious,” Michalak explains. “I think it’s important for kids to unplug, go on adventures, discover nature, read books, draw, and even be bored. Boredom is the birthplace of creativity. That’s when our imaginations really kick in. It’s difficult to be creative when we always have a screen in front of us. I hope Dakota Crumb will inspire kids to pay attention to the tiny treasures around us every day — and to go on their own treasure hunt adventures,” she continues.

Dakota Crumb fans will be pleased as there’s another adventure ahead for the daring mouse with a new book already in the works. “Kelly and I are working on a second Dakota Crumb seek-and-find picture book that’s set in a Parisian bookstore,” Michalak shares. “It’s called Dakota Crumb and the Secret Bookstore, and it’s due in 2022.”

Dakota Crumb, Tiny Treasure Hunter is available in area bookstores including Barrington Books. Download a free Dakota Crumb activity kit at Candlewick.com

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