Book by Arnold author fights bias with bunnies

May 26, 1992|By Angela Gambill | Angela Gambill,Staff Writer

Nannette Brophy's first book reads like a "Peter Rabbit" version of the Los Angeles riots.

"Umber was an orange bunny. He lived in a troubled land," begins "The Color of My Fur," written and illustrated by Brophy, a 29-year-old Arnold resident.

The story, billed as having a message for adults as well as children, engages orange bunnies in a battle against purple bunnies who fight because their fur colors are different.

"Stay up there!" shouted the purple bunnies . . . "Keep out of our forest!"

"This is getting worse," Umber gasped.

A friendly cloud over the forest grieves over the fighting and beings to weep.

"Days and nights passed. Cloud watched the battles going on below him and cried even harder," recounts the story. Cloud weeps so long and so hard that finally the bunnies' colors wash off, and they realize they are all the same.

With this sweet mixture of folk-tale and platitude, Brophy creates a touching story with her first children's book, published last month. Equally enticing are the drawings of the chubby cloud and the truculent bunnies.

Brophy, who has worked as a free-lance illustrator but never written her own copy before, said the idea for the story came to her during the racial conflicts between Korean-Americans and blacks in New York City a few years ago.

"My brother had just married a Korean woman, which brought the conflicts to my attention," Brophy says. "Prejudice seems so silly, a waste of time. I thought if I made it so obvious how silly it is, maybe young people would read it and agree, and when they got older and encountered prejudice, they might remember the story and think: 'This is silly. I'm not going to be like this.' "

The author and her husband, Mark Major, an Army captain stationed at Fort Meade, have lived in the county for four years. They have a child, Lawrence, 2.

Brophy studied art at Penn State and attended the Joe Kubert School, an art school in New Jersey.

Shortly after moving to Maryland, the illustrator began wondering how she could use her illustrating skill to have an effect on people. "There seemed to be so many hate crimes, I wanted to address that," she says.

She took a correspondence course in children's literature, which took about three years. The course taught Brophy how to put a manuscript together and how to submit illustrations to a publisher.

Winston-Derek Publishers Inc. of Nashville, Tenn., took a chance on her as a first-time author, says Brophy. She recently sent the company an idea for another book and is waiting to hear if it will be accepted.

"You want to change the world," says Brophy. "To get a fulfillment out of what you do for a living."

The "Color of My Fur" is on sale at Waldenbooks in the Annapolis Mall for $12.95 hard-cover and $8.95 soft-cover.

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