Banana slug inspires new children's book dedicated to UC Santa Cruz campus mascot

A chance encounter with a banana slug on a rainy-day visit to UC Santa Cruz has inspired the plot of a brand-new children's book dedicated to the campus mascot.

Sally Slug, written by Anne Neufeld Levin and illustrated by Patricia Rebele, explores a day in the life of a colorful banana slug family that lives beneath the redwoods on the UCSC campus. Young Sally, her brother Stanley, and their parents, Mugg and Pugg, slide into some sticky situations in a story that comes complete with its own special "slug" terminology.

"Stanley is supposed to 'slug-sit' for Sally while her parents attend the Cowell Creek Banana Slug Derby," explained Levin, "but he shirks his duties and Sally slips away into the forest. Sally meets another slug from the other side of the mountain named Daisy. They become best friends and are rescued from their misadventure by a wonderful frog named Umphy."

"It all ends very happily with a celebratory picnic," Levin added.

All proceeds from the book will benefit the UC Santa Cruz Foundation and will provide for art history purchases and Special Collections exhibits in the University Library.

"The banana slug was voted Best College Mascot by Sports Illustrated some years back, and many people have said it's a shame that more hasn't been written about slugs," Levin noted. "This all started as an exciting way to do something creative for us and bring a little benefit to the university."

Levin is a UC Santa Cruz Foundation past president and has served as a trustee for 15 years. She endowed the Neufeld Levin Chair in Holocaust Studies in 1995, further supported by her family's archive in Special Collections of the University Library. Levin and her husband, Paul, have been strong supporters of the university, contributing to a wide variety of programs and organizations including scholarships, the Long Marine Laboratory, the Center for Justice, Tolerance, and Community, and research in the natural sciences. She has been a Santa Cruz resident for almost four decades.

Rebele is a graduate of Porter College at UCSC, where she and her husband, Rowland, endowed the Rebele Chair in Art History in 1996. They have supported numerous community arts organizations over the years, including Shakespeare Santa Cruz, the Cabrillo Music Festival, and the Santa Cruz Symphony. Rebele studied at the Academy of Art in San Francisco and enjoys doing watercolors in her travels. A longtime resident of Aptos, she has served as a trustee of the UC Santa Cruz Foundation for nine years.

Levin showed Rebele her story after seeing snapshots of some paintings that Rebele had completed on a recent trip to Morocco.

"Pat came into this by a wonderful accident," Levin recalled. "I asked her to look at the story and within a week, she gave me a few sketches that brought tears to my eyes. She had painted the characters exactly as I had pictured them. She actually brought them to life."

The book contains more than 20 bright, whimsical watercolors detailing the slug family's adventure in the forest surrounding the UCSC campus. Rebele mused on why the slug is such an appealing character.

"I think the bright yellow color appeals to kids," she said. "For little children, banana slugs are small and not frightening at all. And of course, it's such an unusual mascot for a university. And these slugs have personalities of their own. A child can use his imagination and make up his own story about where a slug lives and what his family is like."

Sally Slug will be available in local bookstores beginning on December 16. To order copies, contact UCSC's Bay Tree Bookstore at (831) 459-4544 or at