For this month’s post, I interviewed good friend and children’s book author Ed Ehlers. It seems appropriate in this season of giving and hope to talk about books that literally give back to society, not just by their positive message, but also by directly giving back a share of the proceeds to wildlife and animal rescue organizations.
Hopefully by the end of the interview, you’ll come to agree with the Max & Tucker motto – “Those that we save really save us”.
Did you ever imagine you would become a children’s author?
I imagined being an astronaut, a transformer, a Viking, wait, I was a Viking but that’s another story. However, never a children’s author. I’ve always enjoyed reading, writing, and even, editing but it was always more for personal enjoyment. Although, I’ve always enjoyed children’s books – my all-time favorite is Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.
The Max & Tucker Adventures are based on true life experiences. Could you summarize one of the real-world experiences that inspired one of the books?
Yes, both books are based on actual events. Deer Oh Deer is the story of how Max & Tucker helped rescue a deer. Lily & Lucy is the story of how Max & Tucker helped rescue two puppies. We, Max, Tucker, and I, had been headed to woods like most weekend mornings when we spied two puppies on the dirt road ahead of us. We stopped and I got out to approach the puppies. The little black one ran up to me right away, she was so starved for human attention. The little white one wanted nothing to do with me. She would dart off into the woods as I approached her only to remerge 50 feet down the road. Eventually, I had to let Max & Tucker help catch her. It took two hours, three humans, and Max & Tucker to catch one little puppy. With the help of our friend, Uncle Peter, we fostered the puppies which we named Lily & Lucy. I’ll leave it there, so I don’t spoil the ending.
One of the messages you, Max & Tucker share with your audiences “Just act! Imagine the story you will inspire!” Could you describe what that means?
Everyday each of us is presented with multiple opportunities to act. So often, we let these chances pass us by. Whether it is helping a neighbor, aiding a stranger, saving an animal, or just smiling at a passerby, there are untold occasions for us to act. The incredible thing about acting is that it is like the proverbial pebble in the proverbial pond. You cast your pebble and you know not what ripples are sent forth. Taking action is the same; that smile, that wave, that reaffirming comment can ripple through the lives of others and may change their whole day, their whole life. One small action can set you on a whole new trajectory. Stopping to help two puppies can lead to a children’s book series which help thousands of animals and humans in need. Just act! Imagine the story you will inspire!
A portion of the proceeds from your book sales goes to Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation and the Wildlife Rescue League. Could you provide information on how others could support these causes?
You can do a lot. You can adopt a dog, foster a cat, be a pet taxi, become a wildlife rehabilitator, answer the wildlife helpline, or donate. But the simplest thing you can do is share – share a post on your Instagram, share a story on Facebook, share a video on TikTok. Getting the word out is easy and free. You want to make a difference? Instead of sharing a picture of your latest cappuccino, share a photo of a seasoned dog needing a home. Commit to sharing one post a week about animal rescue. You will make a difference in thousands of lives, both animal and human. Find out more at lostdogrescue.org and wildliferescueleague.org.
You and Max & Tucker often “take your show on the road” and visit schools, libraries, assisted living facilities, adult day care facilities and more. Is there one particularly touching story you can share with us from these visits?
We’ve had the honor and privilege to be invited to so many venues. Every time a person smiles at the sight of Max & Tucker is special but there is one that gets me every time. We were at an assisted living facility sharing Max & Tucker’s stories. The residents had varying levels of mobility and communication. One resident was wheelchair bound and was non-verbal. It was difficult to see if she was enjoying the story. At the conclusion, Max & Tucker went to the residents who were less mobile and as we approached this resident, she reached down to pet Tucker, leaned further over and hugged Tucker. She held him for several minutes and when she sat back up, she had tears in her eyes and a huge smile. The attendant later explained that that was the most movement this resident had done in many months and the first smile in a long time.
You have several creative pursuits in addition to writing – where can folks find out about your other products and interests?
When you are in the woods as much as I am, you notice things. As Max &Tucker chase squirrels, I would pick up litter and interesting rocks. I noticed that some of the litter was historic, glass shards from the turn of the last century and that the rock could be quite beautiful. So, I began making jewelry and art. One line in particular is called Reinforced by CliftonStone which are one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry and art made from wire reinforced glass from the Women’s Minimum-Security Annex at the Lorton Reformatory. A portion of the proceeds are donated to ThriveDC which offers programs assisting women to transition to life after prison, stronger than before. You can find Reinforced and other works at etsy.com/shop/cliftonstone and on Facebook at cliftonstoneva.
Finally, if there is one message you could give to the readers, about books or life in general, what would it be?
Make a SEA change. “Sea Change” is an expression meaning a significant or substantial change; a major transformation; a metamorphosis. By SEA, I mean Selflessness, Empathy, and Action. Look beyond yourself. Feel what others are feeling. Act. Your life, and more importantly the lives of others, can be transformed by day-to-day, common place deeds when done with selflessness and empathy. Max & Tucker Adventures illustrate this beautifully. We started with a simple trip to the woods, like most weekend mornings. It turned into a series of children’s books and activities which impact thousands of people and animals.