It's TRUE, according to my friend and fellow writer Deborah Heiligman. As of this morning, SAVING THE BAGHDAD ZOO is in the window at Barnes & Noble on the Upper West Side. Man, what I'd give to get a picture of that! How dumb is it that I'd like a picture? Pretty dumb. But this book has been such an honor, in every respect, I say it unashamed.
To my delight, the book has been reviewed in Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus, the New York Times and Horn Book. So far. I haven't given up on the hope that School Library Journal and VOYA will also comment on the book. Why do I care so much?
William Sumner. That's why. He's such an American hero, in the best sense of the word, I crave attention for the book more than I have ever craved it. This man put his life on the line, not just to accomplish his mission in Iraq as a member of the U.S. Army, but he spent every minute of his spare time caring for animals that would have died without him.
Lawrence Anthony, a brave conservationist from South Africa became the primary focus when he released his book about the rescue. Press accounts told the world he made that wave of survival possible. But without William Sumner and a vast team of volunteers -- Farah Marrani and Brendan Whittington-Jones in primary roles -- Anthony would have been all but helpless. Sumner's common sense approach and leadership ability helped make it possible to scrape together bits and pieces of time, money, food, medical care and whatever else the zoo animals needed. Teamwork was the message I hoped to convey.
So yes, I'm excited about the publicity. No one deserves to have his story recognized more than Major William Sumner. I feel lucky to have had the chance to help him tell it.
BTW, William sent me this picture, via Brendan Whittington-Jones, another of the heroes in our book. The tigers we sent had new cubs -- and you're among the first to see them. Thanks, Wes, for being the man you are.