Enjoy this guest post from Laura Numeroff, author of New York Times Best Seller, ‘If You Give a Mouse a Cookie’
I’ve been a huge dog lover all of my life!
When I wrote ‘If You Give a Mouse a Cookie’ thirty years ago, I certainly never expected it to become a bestselling series, with sales over 14 million books! At that point, I was happy just to sell the story!
I’ve since published 40 other children’s books, and been on the New York Times Bestsellers list for over thirty-three weeks. Mind-boggling!
Before I had ever heard of Canine Companions for Independence, I was having trouble finding a publisher for a manuscript about a therapy dog — a subject I’ve always wanted to write about!
One of my editors felt it was more suited for the ASPCA.
I was still trying to sell the story when my friend and co-creator of Work for Biscuits, Sean Hanrahan, and I started discussing the possibility of developing and publishing a new series about dogs independently. As you might expect, we had a lot of details to sort out.
‘Raising a Hero,’ the first story of the series, is about raising a puppy to become a service dog. It’s a fun illustrated children’s book that captures the selflessness of puppy raising and spotlights a young puppy determined to be a service dog and help others. (“It’s kind of like being a hero!”)
Sean introduced me to Canine Companions last year and we’ve since worked closely with the teams in Oceanside and Santa Rosa, California to understand the life of a service dog, from birth to retirement.
While neither of us had every raised a puppy, Sean’s brother Devin, a young man with cerebral palsy, had been paired 9 years ago with a Canine Companions assistance dog, Ellie. Sean knew first hand how incredible service dogs were for someone like his brother.
Ellie helps Devin in many ways. One of the more obvious skills she has is getting people’s attention and serving as a social bridge between Devin and others. She is still super cute and helpful even though she recently retired!
Ellie represents everything I wanted to write about, so it was natural for me to dedicate ‘Raising a Hero’ to her and Devin.
Sean and I worked for months to nail down the tone, balance the amount of information and fun in the story, and tackle how to introduce to children the subject of dogs helping people who are disabled.
The hardest part was letting our young readers know that Sam, the boy in the story, has to give up Max, the puppy, at some point — an emotional moment every puppy raiser experiences.
We searched for months to find the right artist. We were getting a bit discouraged before my favorite illustrator and friend, Lynn Munsinger — whom I’ve worked with on many projects including The Jellybeans series and What Mommies/Daddies Do Best — called with good news. She was not only excited about the project, but she was available! This was a dream come true!
I love her work so much that I call her my “Steven Spielberg.”
We finalized the manuscript and started planning how we would produce and promote the project. Sean suggested we consider crowdfunding on Kickstarter; we could connect with our new audiences directly and gain feedback to help shape the book.
I’ve even started researching for our second book of the series, about a heroic military dog who unites a family while overseas and back at home.
We are so encouraged working with Canine Companions for Independence and look forward to connecting with you as our project comes to life.
Our Kickstarter campaign is currently running through Nov. 20. It’s really simple to pledge any amount on the site — if we successfully reach our goal, all funding will go toward producing the hardcover book, interactive app, and teaching kids about service dogs through school and hospital visits.
By backing ‘Raising a Hero’ on Kickstarter, we can highlight the fullness of life these heroic dogs, puppy raisers, and trainers give to those with special needs.
Thank you so much for your support,
You can learn more about the Work for Biscuits series online at www.workforbiscuits.com.