I think all writers write from the time they're really young, and you just start asking the question, 'What if?'
I was sure I wanted to grow up to be either a veterinarian or a writer. In fact, I worked for a vet during high school, doing everything from cleaning cages to assisting in surgery.
I hate to witness animals in captivity - or see circus elephants paraded down the streets. When animals are caged, it's a loss of what they are.
I think we have a real obligation when we do have animals in captivity to understand their needs and to care for them as well as we can.
Stan is a rescue Chihuahua mix. He was the role model for Bob, the dog in 'Ivan.' The drawings in the book look precisely like Stan.
When I was a child, going to a circus with wild animal acts was a rite of passage. These days, it's an act of complicit cruelty.
It occurred to me that a food drive would be a natural way to talk to kids about hunger, which so many of them simply aren't aware of.
That penetrating gaze, that intelligence; it's hard not to be anthropomorphic when you're looking at a great ape - at any primate - but especially with gorillas. They're just so magnificent.
One of the reasons I love writing for middle graders, besides their voracious appetite for books, is their deep concern for fairness and morality.
What do we lose without wild animal acts at the circus? Absolutely nothing, except the opportunity to be haunted and heartbroken.