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Sue Stauffacher

Roger Gilles

So this is the story of the story of how the Animal Rescue Team series came about. In the summer of 2007, my editor at Knopf and Crown Books for Young Readers, Nancy Hinkel, asked me if I’d like to propose a series idea. Before this, I had written what we call “‘stand alone”’ novels. A series—as I’m sure you know—is multiple books involving the same characters. Well, gee, that was like asking me if I wanted a frozen Snickers bar. (I love frozen Snickers’ bars.).

Years ago, I had written a book called “The Kids’ Guide to Wildlife Rehabilitation.” Wildlife rehabilitators rescued injured and abandoned wildlife and make them better so they can return to the wild. Wildlife rehabilitators work with everything from garter snakes to elephants, from pigeons to porcupines. I love wildlife rehabilitators. There’s never a dull moment when you’re hanging around them.

What a great idea for a family business! So I invented the characters in Carter’s’ Urban Rescue: kids Keisha, Razi, and Paulo, along with Mama and Daddy and Grandma. Then I got to invent their friends: Aaliyah, Zeke and Zack, Wen, Jorge, Samantha, and Big Bob! They live in the city of Grand River, which is a lot like the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, where I live. Other people in the book, like such as the principal of the kids’ school, the mayor, and the director of the zoo, are even named after the real-life people in my world. (I asked their permission first.). Finally, I just started collecting ideas from the newspaper. If you read the newspaper for about, say, four days in a row, you’ll understand the saying, “‘Ttruth is stranger than fiction.”’ Here’s the one a newspaper headline that got the ball rolling for Animal Rescue Team: “It’s no crock: Gator shows up in GR [Grand Rapids].”

It was interesting to read about an alligator on the south side of the city, but it seemed more interesting and, okay, a little more zany, if the alligator was found in the city pool. That’s how I do it. I take something that has happened, or maybe mush together a bunch of things that have happened, and then I add the magic ingredient—imagination—and I make up a story. Every Animal Rescue Team book has a section at the back where I explain to kids how I got the idea and then how I dressed it up. This is so kids will know what to do with all the ideas they get every day. It helps to write a few things down or take a few pictures with your cell phone, if that’s your gig. But in general, I don’t make up stories, I find them, like plastic cups on the sidewalk; and then I take them home and see what I can make of them.

My dog Sophie and my cat Fig, my boys’ experiences, my husbands’ rescue attempts, and my big old garden behind my big old farmhouse, are all great places to find stories. If I take Sophie for a walk in the woods, she likes to sniff out her own stories. (I can usually smell these later.). To help kids get an even more in-depth look at how I create, I add lots of details on my blog “Imaginerience.” You can get to my blog and see pictures of my garden and a video trailer of the book at my Web site www.suestauffacher.com. If you’re on Facebook, you can choose to “like” my Animal Rescue Team page and keep up with all the latest stuff I’m doing and even more animal rescue tips. I get very excited when kids tell me their own tips and also how the Animal Rescue Team taught them something that ended up benefitting wildlife.

The very best part of writing books is working with a whole team of super-creative people who make “‘plastic cups”’ look like crystal glasses. Our designer for the series, Sara Hokanson, and illustrator Priscilla Lamont make reading Animal Rescue Team as delicious as eating a frozen Snickers bar. And editors Nancy Hinkel and Allison Wortche worked with me to make the characters and the plot sparkle and shine. Together we’re the Animal Rescue Team Team! And we hope you have as much fun reading the books as we did creating them.


Author Bookshelf

Donuthead

By: Sue Stauffacher

Franklin Delano Donuthead is a fifth grader with a lot of problems: For starters, his last name is Donuthead. He considers himself handicapped because one arm and leg are shorter than the other (by less than half an inch),...

Donutheart

By: Sue Stauffacher

Franklin Delano Donuthead, star of Sue Stauffacher's Donuthead, is back and life continues to throw him lots of curveballs: he's now in sixth grade which means it's time for middle school, with all of its related terrors....

Harry Sue

By: Sue Stauffacher

Harry Sue Clotkin is tough. Her mom's in the slammer and she wants to get there too, as fast as possible, so they can be together. But it's not so easy to become a juvenile delinquent when you've got a tender heart.

Harry...


Nothing but Trouble: The Story of Althea Gibson

By: Sue Stauffacher
Illustrated by: Greg Couch

Althea is nothing but trouble! Everyone agrees: her mama, her daddy, her teacher, even the policeman. But when Buddy Walker, the play leader on Althea's street in Harlem, watches her play paddle tennis, he sees...

Tillie the Terrible Swede

By: Sue Stauffacher
Illustrated by: Sarah McMenemy

When Tillie Anderson came to America, all she had was a needle. So she got herself a job in a tailor shop and waited for a dream to find her. One day, a man sped by on a bicycle. She was told "bicycles aren't...

Animal Rescue Team: Gator on the Loose!

By: Sue Stauffacher

Meet the Carters: Mr. and Mrs. Carter, 10-year-old daughter Keisha, five-year-old Razi, baby Paolo, and Grandma Alice. Together, they run Carters' Urban Rescue, the place you call when you've got an animal where it shouldn't...


Animal Rescue Team: Special Delivery!

By: Sue Stauffacher

Keisha and her family are just sitting down to Saturday-morning breakfast when the phone rings. Uh-oh! There seems to be a skunk at the community garden, and it's dug a hole under the shed. At the same time, Mr. Sanders can't...

Animal Rescue Team: Hide and Seek

By: Sue Stauffacher

It’s autumn in Grand River, and as Keisha and her pals prepare for Halloween, a phone call comes in to Carters’ Urban Rescue: a deer has been spotted in the neighborhood . . . with a pumpkin on his head! The deer was enjoying...

Animal Rescue Team: Show Time

By: Sue Stauffacher

The squirrels at Mt. Mercy College are getting too friendly—they're frightening the students, making the nuns jumpy . . . and they're super messy. It's time to call the Animal Rescue Team! 

Meanwhile, Keisha's...


Animal Rescue Team Collection: Volume 1

By: Sue Stauffacher

GATOR ON THE LOOSE!
Meet the Carters: Mr. and Mrs. Carter, 10-year-old daughter Keisha, five-year-old Razi, baby Paolo, and Grandma Alice. Together, they run Carters’ Urban Rescue, the place you call when...

Animal Rescue Team Collection: Volume 2

By: Sue Stauffacher

HIDE AND SEEK
As Keisha and her pals prepare for Halloween, a phone call comes in to Carters’ Urban Rescue: a deer has been spotted in the neighborhood . . . with a pumpkin on his head! The deer was enjoying...