When Miranda Mittleman sat down to write what eventually became her first children’s book, “We Are All Different,” she wasn’t dreaming of becoming a published author. She just wanted to write a couple of poems about her dog, Weaver.
Once her husband, Michael, suggested she think bigger, she began turning some of those poems into a book.
Two years later, Mittleman, 28, is the author of two picture books, “We Are All Different” and “I Am Important,” with the third book in the “PAWS and THINK!” series scheduled to publish later this year, via indie press Mascot Books.
Mittleman says she is having the time of her life using her books to teach children important life lessons and raise awareness for the causes dear to her heart.
None of these books would have met their deep material if Mittleman hadn’t found Weaver back in 2015. The Mittlemans had known they wanted a dog since before they got married and, more specifically, knew they wanted to adopt a dog from a shelter.
“We opened the door, took one look at him, and I turned to my husband and said, ‘He’s ours!’” Mittleman says.
The Mittlemans now live in Hagerstown, but at the time they adopted Weaver from the We Rescue Love shelter, they lived in South Baltimore. It was while walking the city streets with Weaver that Mittleman first got the idea to write poems about her fur baby and the people and places they encountered on their walks. “We Are All Different,” for example, is inspired by their trips to Riverside Park, where a wide range of breeds and types of dog make for an extra awesome doggie play-date.
By the time Mittleman decided to turn her poems into books and signed with Mascot, she’d actually already written enough material for four books. She and Mascot published the first two last year. An Indonesian-based illustration studio called Indos Studio provided the artwork.
Mittleman says she’s been thrilled by the books’ initial reception.
“The books have been very well-received so far and I’ve visited about 30 schools to date with many more lined up before the end of this school year,” Mittleman says. “And it’s been an amazing experience for me. It’s probably been the best part about becoming an author. I get to walk into these schools and see hundreds of children and teach them these lessons.”
And even beyond visiting schools, Mittleman has been able to make an impact with her books in another way. For each quarter since the “PAWS and THINK!” books began, she’s donated a portion of the profits to a different charity or nonprofit organization.
For the first three quarters, Mittleman worked with the Baltimore Humane Society, the Maryland chapter of the Society for the Protection of Animals and the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter. She’s raised over $500 each quarter so far, and she hopes to work with We Rescue Love later this year before expanding donations beyond just animal rescue organizations.
“I wanted the first few charities that I worked with to be ones that helped animals,” Mittleman says. “We were so fortunate to adopt Weaver from a wonderful animal rescue and he has truly changed our lives. He’s the reason why these books are here.”
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Alex Holt is a Baltimore-based freelance writer.