Whether you prefer writing, illustrating or both, the creation of children’s books can be rewarding and fun!
The road to creating children’s literature like Topo and the Second Chance Circus has encompassed almost 5 years since the initial conception. I began my journey to create the third and last installment in the series with my only goal being to weave another fun and colorful story about friendship, second chances, and just being yourself. I didn’t have a working title in mind, nor did I suspect I would have much more to say in this book than my previous endeavors.
Now everyone knows a good story needs some form of conflict for the hero (or heroes!) to overcome. If you read over my first book, There’s A Crazy Dog Under the Palace!, it dealt with a homeless dog befriended by others … the second book, Who Ate the Gelato?!, found multiple animals that needed help and compassion to find new homes … so what adventure could I concoct for the third book?
Ask a question you’ll always get an answer, even if you don’t recognize it at first! Several events happened in the world between 2014-2016 that would ignite the burning flame of creativity necessary to give me the direction I sought for my book.
Lions, Giraffes & Elephants, Oh My!
February 2014 ~ A healthy two year old male giraffe named Marius was deemed genetically unsuitable for breeding by the Copenhagen Zoo in Denmark. Despite several offers to adopt Marius (one of the strongest pleas coming from Jack Hanna of the Columbus Zoo in Ohio), and even an online petition to save him, he was euthanized. He was dissected and his body fed to the lions at the zoo while the public watched in horror.
July 2015 ~ In Africa, a 13 year old male lion named Cecil lived in the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. He was being studied and tracked by a research team from Oxford University, as part of a long-term study. Under the guise of alleged protection, Cecil was shot and killed by a recreational hunter with a crossbow … and no charges were brought against the hunter.
Over 100 elephants are needlessly killed every single day.
As an animal rights advocate, I was outraged that such atrocities could be allowed. But as with many times in the past, rich and private individuals paid the right people in the right countries, for the privilege to hunt big game for sport, and our own country did nothing to prohibit the taking of “trophies” or bringing them home for display.
Creation of a Solution
I wanted to do something to help educate the public about the natural beauty in the World being recklessly destroyed on a daily basis. Then it hit me that I should use these tragedies as a catalyst for my story but with one major difference … in my tale the animals survive! And I wanted to create something that presented the facts to my readers without glorifying or downplaying the aspect of death. From that decision, Topo and the Second Chance Circus was born!
While I can appreciate this information presented in a children’s book format may be strong subject matter for a 5 year old child, I believe I’m successful in presenting the plight of many endangered animals in a palatable way that provides valuable information for future generations to consider. And my primary message of friendship, second chances and just being yourself is never lost within the story as it unfolds.
In the end and without realizing it, I found a way to entertain and educate kids and their parents at the same time! I’m proud of the characters and the books I’ve created over the past 11 years and I hope my readers have enjoyed the same adventure too!