The answer is—I LOVE animals! Feathered or furry, soft or scaly, smooth or slimy, every animal is amazing! Actually, I think most people are fascinated by animals. I also like to write about animals because I believe the more we know about animals, the better we are able to take care of them.
Now you might be thinking, “People take care of their pets, but we don’t need to take care of wild animals, right? They take care of themselves.” Well, that’s true, wild animals do know how to take care of themselves. But sometimes habitats or other things in nature change, and as a result, certain animals need a little help.
That’s why I decided to write What’s the Difference? This picture book shares the cool ways people are making a huge difference in our world by helping endangered animals. One of the twelve animals featured in the book is the Karner blue butterfly. (Yes, butterflies ARE animals!) The Karner blues in New Hampshire ran into trouble when their favorite plants, the wild lupines, started disappearing from their habitat called the pine barrens.
Fortunately, nearby schoolchildren heard about problem and decided to help. First, the children planted wild lupine seeds and tended the tiny sprouts until they grew into healthy plants. In the spring, they planted the wild lupines in their local pine barrens. New Karner blue pupae were also raised in zoos, then released in the New Hampshire pine barrens where they grew up to be butterflies. Now, thanks to helpful people, beautiful Karner blue butterflies are soaring in the New Hampshire skies once again!
During my research for What’s the Difference? I also learned how people are helping other endangered animals such as gray bats, Atlantic salmon, sea otters, red wolfs, Utah prairie dogs, bald eagles, Mississippi gopher frogs, American crocodiles, and bowhead whales. I even got to talk to experts at the US Fish and Wildlife Service about what people are doing to save whooping cranes and manatees.
It was so encouraging to discover the creative ways people across the country are helping our precious animals, I couldn’t wait to share what I’d discovered with young readers. I hope by spreading the word that everyone can make a difference, more animals will be helped. (So I guess that’s another reason I write about animals!)
Suzanne Slade is the award-winning author of 90 books for children. Some of her other books about animals include What’s New at the Zoo?, Multiply on the Fly, The Great Divide, and the popular bedtime book, Animals are Sleeping. You can visit Suzanne at www.suzanneslade.com.