“Oh, that’s Betty’s book.” Arnold said when we asked. He had no idea where the rest of the illustrations were or if they even still existed.
“Betty kept everything, so they must be here somewhere," he said. It was clear he wasn’t confident that they would be found.
But several weeks after Betty’s death, Arnold woke up in the middle of the night remembering that she had a secret hiding place for her favorite paintings. Beneath her grandfather’s antique bed, he found all the original paintings for the book stored safely in an old portfolio. They were in perfect condition. He also found the manuscript for the story printed in a small mock-up she had created for potential publishers to review the book.
It was time for this work to meet its public, Anet and I agreed. We decided to publish it ourselves.
The book – titled "Rhoda's Ocean" – tells the story of Wilma Woodchuck and Rhoda Rabbit, who are best friends. But Wilma and Rhoda are very different.
"Practical Wilma believes in neatness, while Rhoda is a dreamer who forgets her shoes and wonders what an ocean looks like," says Arnet. "'Rhoda’s Ocean' celebrates creativity, friendship, and the rewards of being yourself."
In some ways, it tells the story of Betty herself.
She grew up in the Great Smoky Mountains of rural Tennessee where she was the only daughter of five children. At the age of 19, she received a full scholarship to Cooper Union and bravely moved on her own to New York City to attend the prestigious art school. After graduation, she went on to work as an illustrator for a top advertising agency, The Washington Post, and other newspapers. She won several major awards for illustration during her career.