SEARSPORT, Maine — If you are someone who dreams of ways to rescue every homeless animal, then "Maxx and Mrs. Queen" is your kind of book.
Author Janet Williams grew up in England and now makes her home in Searsport. She has been an ardent animal lover her entire life. This book is her way of helping animals find new homes.
At the beginning of the story, five homeless cats are nearly run over by a man who then takes them home and adopts them. Just writing this story made Williams emotional.
"The whole subject of homeless animals really gets to me," she said tearfully.
Behind those tears is a woman who wishes for nothing more than a home for every animal, and since she cannot do that herself, she wrote "Maxx and Mrs. Queen" instead.
The animals have personalities, and in her story, they interact and have conversations with all the people around them.
"I’d sit down to write, and who knows what would come out," Williams said. "It was no stretch of the imagination for me. They are part of us. They are just part of the family. They are just very, very real."
Together with the Queen of England, the animals decide that the Queen’s carriage will travel to St. James Park each day to feed all the homeless animals.
"[It's] the royal Meals on Wheels. I think my imagination gets carried away at times," she said.
When asked if she was someone who would happily rescue every homeless animal in the world, Williams said, "Yes, that is true. I’ve always wanted to have a sanctuary of my own."
Williams's imagination about animals was sparked as a young child reading books about Rupert Bear, a beloved children’s character very much a part of her British upbringing.
"It was Rupert Bear and his friend, Badger," she said. "They dressed as people, walked on two legs, rode bicycles, did everything that human children would do. And I was always convinced that one day we’d be driving through a little village and I would see them. It all seemed totally normal to me."
These were the characters that inspired her to bring Maxx and the other animals to life. She hopes her story will be read to, or read by, people of all ages.
Williams urges everyone to do something to help the animals.
"I hope it goes far and wide and Maxx touches the heart of many people," she said. "The fact that individuals can make a difference. Don’t be overwhelmed by thinking, 'Oh my goodness, the problem’s too big. I can’t do anything.' Go down and volunteer at your local shelter. Every little bit helps."
The illustrations in the book are by another Mainer, Kim Jacobs, who lives in Brooks.
Williams plans to donate all the proceeds of the book to animal rescue groups. She has also set up a nonprofit called The Maxx Foundation.
To learn more about the book, click here. The book is available through the website, and you can learn more about the Maxx Foundation there as well.