Through his writing, Michael J. Rosen addresses some of the issues that matter most to him—“but sideways,” he says. “I can’t begin head-on, just writing about a cause or a problem. Even though I try to talk about human predicaments and human wrongs—toward animals, the earth, or one another—I need to start with a single image, one odd turn of events, or a particular remark.”
An acclaimed author, editor, and illustrator of some forty books for both adults and young people, Michael J. Rosen draws much of his inspiration from his lifelong experience with animals, whether as a college zoology major, a bird watcher, a dog trainer, or the founder of a granting program to help humane societies care for less fortunate cats and dogs. Don’t Shoot!, for instance, follows the reaction of an animal-loving teenage boy who is horrified to encounter a culture of deer hunting when his family leaves Columbus, Ohio, to live in a house in the country. “When I moved from the major city where I’d lived most of my life to a rural community, the changes were monumental,” the author notes. “And I often thought, What if I hadn’t actually chosen to live here? I wrote Don’t Shoot! not only to imagine this new way of life from a teenage point of view, but also to consider the complicated (and always teetering) balance we try to achieve, living, as we all do, amid an ever-diminishing natural world.”
When he’s not writing, editing, or drawing, Michael J. Rosen likes to garden, cook, and collect—dog paraphernalia, of course. “I have lots of old dog books, sculptures, and pictures that kids and folk artists have made of their dogs, dog toys, old wooden dog-shaped door stops, and vintage dog pillows,” he says. “My office is just a kennel of drawn, carved, modeled, sewn, and colored dogs.” Born and reared in Columbus, Ohio, the author now lives with his family—which of course includes dogs and a cat—on ninety forested acres in central Ohio.