Alden BigelowOne day local author Alden Bigelow wrote a short story that dealt with animal cruelty and animal rights. Eventually it developed into his current novel, The Great American Mammal Jamboree.

“It just evolved into a novel as my characters and their thoughts grew larger and larger in my mind,” he said. The book is written from the perspective of animals, both wild and domesticated. Most of the book is told through the point of view of a springer spaniel named Jessie. Jessie is chosen partly because of his affinity and ability to bond with humans on a different level than most wild animals.

“My favorite character was Jessie, because he is a great narrator and a good dog and a close personal friend of mine,” said Bigelow.
The animals come together for a jamboree and, though some express their disenchantment with humans and their cruelty and misunderstanding of animals, Jessie cautions them that they need to be open to promoting peaceful, friendly compromise.

“This is about animals learning to work together in order to teach and persuade” humans, Bigelow said.

The mountain lion Thunderbolt, a wise and bold speaker who persuades the group to take action, states, “Just as he abused his own gift of free will and the ability to make choices, so too do we have the choices and free will challenged only by man, circumstances and ourselves.” The book is a profound look at mankind through the eyes and minds of a variety of characters in the animal world.

In the book, discussion among the animals focuses on human irresponsibility when it comes to urban sprawl, which results in shrinking habitats and blame for animals when they have nowhere to go. Some of the animal characters are angry or feel alienated, believing that resolution and compromise is useless. They cite their positive kinship with Native Americans, who are respectful of the animal world.

All the animals have distinct personalities and interact well together, expressing emotion and thoughts.

“Developing the persona of the animals was perhaps the easiest,” said Bigelow. “I knew what each animal had to say and how he said it because I felt channeled into them. The hardest part, upon finishing the basic story, was putting it all together: the editing, the illustrations, the rereading, the layout and design – because I’m hard to work with and jealous of sharing the creative load. It all turned out beautifully, I believe, thanks to all the talented and supportive people involved.”

Bigelow credited his wife, Marjorie, for her endless support, Catherine Hamilton for her illustrations, Kandy Harvey for layout and production, and specific readers for input in various parts of the book.

Bigelow said he believes that The Great American Mammal Jamboree has a universal audience, but is geared towards adults and high school students. Its appeal is for those who have an affinity for animals and understand that though animals may operate on instinct and communicate on a different level, they are nevertheless able to connect in amazing ways.

“I hope readers will take away, first and foremost, entertainment, which will allow them to be catapulted into the overall theme of animal rights,” he said. “I hope this book provides a small contribution toward animal protection, animal rights, and overall respect for the animal kingdom.”