I owe my mother everything. When I was a kid, she didn’t demand that I pick up a book, but simply read herself, so I followed her example. The first book I remember choosing was Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, which told the harrowing tale of a horse’s life. Consuming that one book led to a lifetime of reading—but the story also ignited my love of animals, teaching me to empathize more deeply with such creatures, eventually leading to a career as a veterinarian, not to mention a novelist who loves folding animals into his stories. So thanks, Mom!