The author, Andrea Zimmer, is an elementary school teacher in OC California. Her love for all animals led her to transition to veganism, and after having her daughter, Andrea became inspired to work towards creating tools that would help parents introduce young children to the concepts of animal rights, wrong versus right, compassion, and kindness for all.
Andrea tells us about her new book in 5 questions…
Sanctuary Publishers: Hi Andrea! We’re so excited for your first ever children’s book, Wild and Free! Can you tell us about it and how you became inspired to write a rhyming book that succinctly helps children make connections about their choices at such a young age?
Andrea Zimmer: Hi and thank you! That’s a very good question! Being a teacher, I have seen what a huge impact a good book can have in a child’s life. After I had my daughter 2 years ago, I was searching and searching for good vegan children’s books for “very young children” to help her understand “why vegan” and how our actions can greatly affect other nonhuman as well as human beings on this planet. I found some that I liked, but thought, “I love words, especially rhyming words, and so do children. I can write my own book”. Then, one day while at school, the first verse popped in my head, and the rest is history. I love it when a book “flows”, and Wild and Free flows with the truth in a kid friendly non-graphic way.
Sanctuary Publishers: Maritza Oliver, a well-known Vegan Children’s book author and illustrator, noted how the book and illustrations get this message across, as you mention, in a non-graphic way. Could you tell us more about that and what age group you wrote the book for?
Andrea Zimmer: Sure, I’d love to. This book was written for a younger audience from babies to toddlers but could also be a great first reader for preschool children too. It’s a wonderful book to use to introduce our young children to the ethics of veganism and help them understand right vs. wrong without being graphic. However, it’s still being specific enough, so they can understand that it’s wrong to do what we are doing to our fellow nonhuman beings; thus, the kids still get a basic understanding of animal rights.
Sanctuary Publishers: What would you say is your favorite verse in the book and why?
Andrea Zimmer: That’s a tough question since I love all the verses, but honeybees are very close to my heart and are often a subject of debate in the vegan/plant-based communities. Without bees everything else is a moot point. Bees work very hard to make their honey, and they need it to survive. During the winter they feed on the honey they collected during the warmer months and it takes about 35 pounds of honey to provide enough food for a smaller colony of bees to survive the winter. Honey collection is destructive to a hive. A hive must travel far and wide to visit over 2 million flowers in order to produce just 1 pound of honey. They fly approx. 55,000 miles to produce that 1 pound of honey. Honeybees make their honey to provide for their hive, and we depend on them to help pollinate our plants. Without the bees our food chain collapses. They are gentle little beings who help us do a big job, so why do we take away their food?
Sanctuary Publishers: What about the illustrations? Do you have a favorite?
Andrea Zimmer: I love all the illustrations, which were done by Julia Feliz Brueck. She is such a talented person and did a beautiful job bringing my words to life. The illustration at the end of the book with all the children standing united together with the animals touches my heart. It helps me remember that if we start with our younger generations and give them the information and tools they need, they will become empowered to use their compassion to fight for truth and justice for all beings – both nonhuman and human alike. I like to say, “We are planting the seeds of change, one book and one child at a time, for a brighter future for all Earthlings”. I hope that my daughter’s generation will be the one that finally ends the exploitation of all living beings on Earth.
Sanctuary Publishers: One other unique thing about your book is that it ends with a list of 10 things kids can do with their parents to help raise the voices of both non-humans AND humans. So, it’s not just a book about connections – it’s also about taking action when we can. Why do you think this is important?
Andrea Zimmer: It’s extremely important that we as adults show our children that although we feel strongly about something it’s just as important to act and use our voices to make positive change. They need to know they aren’t powerless and should be taught that their voices matter. The future is in their hands, and they need to know how to make positive changes whether they are large or small. Kindness has a ripple effect and one person can make a difference. I’ll be working on more actions we can do with small children, so keep an eye on our Wild and Free Facebook page and Instagram for more. Together we can make this world a better place for ALL!
Wild and Free is now on sale!
Sales from each book sold will help support the residents at PreetiRang Sanctuary!
Read about the great work they are doing and about their residents, here: