Plymouth 400 partner destinations :
Paint Stain

Barnicle and Husk begin merry adventure

The Official Website of the
Plymouth 400

That moment would be the start of an unlikely friendship between Barnicle and Husk and their adventures together.
The brave little mouse shouted “Stop” as he saw the scrawny orange cat eating his adopted family’s food.
That moment would be the start of an unlikely friendship between Barnicle and Husk and their adventures together.
In her new chapter book “Barnicle and Husk: The Adventure Begins,” Mary Shields turns the idea that a cat and mouse have to be rivals on its ear. Barnicle and Husk are friends, not adversaries, and both find friendship among the Wampanoag.
The friendship between a young girl named Running Deer who rescued Husk as an orphan serves as the backstory behind Shields’ efforts with help from the book’s advisors to teach young people about life in a Wampanoag village.
“My hope is it will start getting children to ask questions,” she said. “What does it mean they were dying? What does it mean they were stolen?”
Shields said she has always been interested in Wampanoag history and incorporated into her book so much she has learned about it from people like Wampanoag Chief Flying Eagle, Earl Mills Sr., whom she considers to be her mentor, and Linda Jeffers Coombs, an Aquinnah Wampanoag and Wampanoag historian who also serves on the board of Plymouth 400 Inc.
“I needed to get their perspective,” she said. “Linda was very instrumental in pointing out what I was doing wrong as an author.”
It’s been her goal to be historically accurate and respectful of the ways of the Wampanoag, and that has meant changes to her original book concept and drawings. She writes about what Husk learns about the culture, including upsetting stories about life and loss, in a chapter titled “Lessons Learned.”
The relationship between the field mouse named Husk and the adventurous cat named Barnicle was destined when circumstances threw Barnicle and a pregnant cat named Agnes together aboard the Mayflower. The book also contains lessons on the immigration experience.
Shields has a special affinity for mice. She lived this story herself, having once hand-fed and saved the life of a newborn mouse she named Rembrandt. She has also had cats her whole life.
She describes her experience with the field mouse as the catalyst for “Barnicle and Husk: The Adventure Begins.”
The story of how they meet sets the stage for a series of adventures in subsequent chapter books written primarily for children ages 7 to 10. Shields plans on writing half a dozen chapter books about Barnicle and Husk before 2020.
She’s also working on a series of full-color pre-readers for children ages 4 to 6 as well as a series of educational board games for children featuring Barnicle and Husk she’s calling Pocket Plymouth, all with the help of her team at Shields Design Studio in the WaterWorks Building.
She’s also excited that third-graders at Eames Way Elementary School in Marshfield are reading her book. Young people in Plymouth, England, may also be introduced to Barnicle and Husk through the Mayflower Education Project of the Plymouth City Council.
Her company, Shields Design Studio, or SDG Direct, with clientele in fields ranging from healthcare to tourism, is an official sponsor of the Plymouth 400 celebration to commemorate the Pilgrims and the Mayflower voyage, interaction with the Wampanoag people, and the founding of Plymouth Colony.
Shields has been in business for more than 30 years. She lives in Plymouth and Harpswell, Maine, with her husband, Jim McKinnell. She’s also a trustee on the board of BID-Plymouth and chairman of the Community Business Partners. She holds bachelor and associates degrees in art education.
Books are available for purchase online at, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, and available for Kindle and Nook e-readers, and are for sale at local retailers in Plymouth, including Windemere Books, Plimoth Plantation, Cranberry House and Ocean Treasures and at the Plymouth visitor’s center.
To follow Barnicle and Husk, they are also on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, @BarnicleAndHusk.
Shields will donate a portion of the proceeds from the book’s sales to Plymouth 400 Inc. She said the book complements the many events and programs surrounding Plymouth 400 that are geared to adults like the traveling exhibit “Our” Story: 400 Years of Wampanoag History” produced by Paula Peters and her team at SmokeSygnals and owned by Plymouth 400 Inc.
A larger-than-life Barnicle and larger-than-life Husk have been making their way around, recently appearing at Memorial Hall in Plymouth on Halloween and set to appear on the Plymouth 400 float during the annual America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Parade Saturday, Nov. 18, and at Illuminate Thanksgiving starting at 4 p.m. outside the new Plymouth Town Hall.
Illustrations by Bob Ostrom, who has previously collaborated with Shields on design work for Disney, have been created to transport readers to life in 1620 through the eyes of its whimsical characters.
“I want them to have life and be able to help children find this part of history fun and engaging,” she said.
Follow Kathryn Gallerani on Twitter @kgallreporter.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email