While browsing through the cat adoption area last month at America’s Family Pet Expo, I happened upon a table with several copies of a bright yellow book with an adorable cover. Being the cat book collector that I am, I browsed through the first few pages and knew I had to add this charming book to my collection. But “The Upstairs Cat” is not just any children’s book. It is the first to be published in the “Rescue Me” book series. Author and creator of the series Jaimi Ilama is also the President of Open Door Publishing (Books for Kids), which is a nonprofit 501(c)3 and the publishing company of the “Rescue Me” series.
The Open Door Publishing mission statement is: Printing books for children that open the door to social issues with stories that promote awareness, acceptance, and tolerance to all living things.
A conversation with Jaimi
What is “The Upstairs” Cat about?
“The Upstairs Cat” is a story about a cat who never left her upstairs room because she had everything she ever needed and wanted. Then one day her “favorite” boy leaves, and she finds herself all alone in the room they shared and the world she had once known changed to black and white. She quickly realizes that being alone isn’t fun and bravely goes outside her door to explore the rest of the house. She takes the reader along on her adventure and together they find a house full of other animals and humans that love and adore her, just as much as her “favorite” boy and all of the color comes back into her world.
What inspired you to write “The Upstairs Cat”?
My son’s cat Amazon is the “true” upstairs cat. I watched as she struggled with change when my son went away to college. I saw how difficult it was for her to face her fears and be brave enough to go outside of her room. After crossing the threshold, she learned to accept a life that was different from the one she had always known – and encouraged herself to accept the changes and be loved by everyone in the house. A huge life lesson that humans and animals face each and every day.
Can you talk a bit about the importance of why you chose to do the “Rescue Me” series?
The “Rescue Me” series is about raising awareness and shinning a light on social issues that often occur in a lifetime. Every story has a life struggle and lesson that is learned. The stories are told through the eyes of animals (cat, dog, ferret, turtle, and Asian elephant). The themes discussed in each book include facing fears and change; abandonment; prejudice; homelessness; and saying goodbye to a loved one.
Every book has an uplifting message of hope, compassion, tolerance and acceptance. All of the themes are approached with optimism and courage. The text is age-appropriate and the message, though powerful, is delicately addressed. There is always a happy and fulfilling ending that will leave the reader and listener wanting to read it over and over again.
These books are written to teach the youngest generation of readers and all ages the importance of kindness, generosity of spirit, and respect for all living things. They focus on the similarities that both humans and animals share and how to recognize and raise awareness to social issues that can happen to anyone, either by choice or circumstance.
At the end of every story are a few “What Would You Do?” questions that invite the reader to put themselves in the main character’s place, and open a dialogue to discuss (in a loving environment) how they would react and what they would do differently or the same. This in turn allows the reader to have a greater understanding of the “power” they have within them to change other’s perceptions. To educate them on making a difference in the lives of others by being the voice of the voiceless or those who have lost it along the way. And, to have the opportunity to truly see both people and animals from the inside out, and learn to refrain from judgment and ridicule.
I understand that a portion of all “Rescue Me” book sales are donated to nonprofits. How did you choose which nonprofit or rescue to donate to?
The nonprofits that were chosen for each book are very personal to me. They have saved the lives of my rescued animals, helped me in my own challenges, and have a mission I strongly believe in. Each nonprofit that we give to are small, independently run organizations that depend solely on private donations, and the money we give goes directly to saving animals, raising awareness and helping those in need. I would like to add that none of the charities ever asked for my help. It was because of their unwavering dedication and love for the animals and humans they help, that we give to them. Every book has a different charity and/or charities attached to it depending on the theme of the book. All of the charities are listed on our website.
What is the next book in the series and when do you anticipate it will be published?
The second book in the series is “A Pup’s Tale.” It is about a Border Collie named Dru. At the turn of every page you follow Dru’s paw prints as he takes you on his journey of trials and tribulations to finding a forever home and the friends he meets along the way.
As a nonprofit, we depend on the sales of “The Upstairs Cat” and donations to Open Door Publishing to make all of the books in the series. A portion of the sales of every book goes to their chosen charities. The other portion goes to making the rest of the “Rescue Me” series. It costs approximately $5,000 to make a book. We are hopeful that once people fall in love with “The Upstairs Cat” and learn more about the “Rescue Me” series and Open Door Publishing, they will understand the importance of getting these books into homes, schools, and libraries across the country and the world. These stories and their messages are universal and relatable to everyone everywhere.
Anything else we should know about the book series or the publishing company?
Open Door Publishing is dedicated to educating children from preschool to 12th grade and inspire greatness. We believe that writing is an important outlet for everyone, and will soon be holding writing contests for all ages. We also plan to offer packages to help young writers and writers of all ages become published authors. There are a few requirements that need to be met, which you can learn about on our website.
I am working diligently on getting Open Door Publishing the funding necessary to print all of the books in the “Rescue Me” series get them on every bookshelf possible. We also want to publish books from authors who believe in our mission and are interested in raising awareness of social issues with their personal stories of hope and encouragement.
What pets do you have at home?
I have two dogs, three cats, and six turtles.
Anything else we should know about you? A fun fact?
I consider myself a “late bloomer.” It took me 50 years to find my passion. And I would like everyone who reads this interview to know that it doesn’t matter how long it takes you. Never stop believing in your dreams or yourself. Passion comes from deep within your soul, and has no age limit! Fun fact: Ilama is an acronym for I Love All My Animals.
Thank you to Jaimi for sharing “The Upstairs Cat” and Open Door Publishing with us. The “Rescue Me” series sounds like it will be a wonderful set of children’s books. I personally loved “The Upstairs Cat” and am proud to have it in my library of cat books. I can’t wait to read the rest in the series. You can connect with Jaimi via the Open Door Publishing website, Facebook and LinkedIn. If you’re interested in purchasing “The Upstairs Cat,” you can do so on the website. A portion of all sales are donated to two animal rescue groups in Southern California.
Note: This is not a sponsored post. I purchased my copy of “The Upstairs Cat” and simply wanted to share this delightful book and nonprofit publishing company with you.
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