Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Book Review/Author Interview: Endangered Species Superheroes by Dakota Duncan

Teenaged Lindsey loves helping out at her grandfather's wildlife sanctuary, assisting with his research and learning all about the animals. It's a peaceful life until evil villain Mace Zagan escapes from prison determined to destroy her grandfather and all of his research. Lindsey would do anything to help her grandfather and so would her sanctuary friends; a sloth, a marine iguana, and a tapir, all of whom are undergoing some very unusual transformations. Will their new abilities be enough to defeat Mace Zagan before he succeeds with his evil plan?

I think this is the very first graphic novel I've ever read and I'm so glad I stepped out of my literary comfort zone to give it a try. Not only is the story fun, imaginative, and educational, but the colorful illustrations are simply eye-popping. 

This book introduced me to some species of animals I've never even heard of before, but of course my favorite character was kitty Fluffy who plays a very important role. Next in line would have to be Bosco...I'm nuts about sloths! 

Teaching children about endangered species is so important, and stories with fun characters will hopefully encourage them to care enough about the natural world around them to do their part in protecting it for future generations. 


Mudpie has had a lengthy break from her interview series but took time from her busy nap schedule to chat with author Dakota Duncan. We hope you enjoy learning some behind-the-scenes details about Endangered Species Superheroes, and I'm personally super excited about the book series she's working on now!

Mudpie: I am thrilled that there is a cat in your book, but why did you include a cat on a book that features endangered species?

Dakota Duncan: I think a lot of people might wonder about that since domestic cats are not an endangered or even a threatened species. The truth is, Fluffy did not start out as one of the team members of Endangered Species Superheroes. She was a shape-shifting character I'd created a few years ago for a different project, but she really wanted to be in this story. I am glad she demanded to included because I think her role as Lindsey's pet cat and close friend is important. We don't learn a lot about Lindsey's backstory, but we do know she lost her parents and seems to seek comfort from Fluffy whenever she is scared or upset. This is something most people can relate to. In addition, cats are very familiar animals to children, much more relatable than the other animals, like Zoey, the tapir.

I, of course, know that cats have a special way of communicating with humans enlightened enough to understand. How did you learn about animal communication and why did you include it in the book?

Many years ago I saw a local television show highlighting animal communicator, Lydia Hiby. I thought it was interesting, but I was quite skeptical that someone could really “talk” to animals and obtain the kind of information that she claimed to receive. As I recall, she spoke of details about lost animals and illnesses. A friend gave me a gift-certificate to speak with her about my family pets, knowing since it was a gift, I would use it. We did a session over the phone. I told Lydia where we lived, the type of animals we had and that was all. She then invited them speak with her about anything they wanted to. She proceeded to tell me things there was no way she could have known – details about one of our cat's reaction to photographs, some rivalries among our furry ones, a behavior that was linked to an injury we were not even aware of, and more. Let me tell you, I was blown away! I have since done sessions with Lydia and other animal communicators and have learned a little bit about developing my own communication skills.

I wanted to include animal communication in my book because I think it is important that more people understand that human-animal communication is possible. It may not be quite as detailed or simple as it is in my book, but I think it touches on the topic in a fun way. It highlights that just because animals don't communicate in the ways humans do does not make them inferior or mean they don't have anything important to say. If more people would take the time to learn to communicate with their pets, it would not only strengthen their bond, but could help diagnose medical and behavioral problems. Also, it's just cool.

A shape-shifting cat is super cool, but why is Fluffy’s alter-ego a Sumatran Rhino?

The answer is similar to what Fluffy tells Lindsey. A while back, I had wondered what it would be like to have a rhinoceros in the house and created a comic called Rescue Rhino. There was a Sumatran Rhino who wanted to be an indoor pet like the dog and cat she watched but knew she would never be adopted into the family as a rhino. She was able to change herself into a cat and follow the dog home one day. She ends up getting adopted and the human sees her as a cat, but the real cat and dog see that she is a rhino. In the book, I like the juxtaposition of a very common, small domestic cat and an extremely rare, large Sumatran Rhino. It allows the character to have a wealth of knowledge and experiences.

What message do you hope reader’s will take with them after reading Endangered Species Superheroes? 

There are two things that come to mind for me. The first is that I hope this book ignites or fuels a curiosity about animals - especially those threatened or endangered. The second is that we all have our own strengths and weaknesses that make us special and valuable.

Was the character of Fluffy the cat inspired by a special cat in your life?

I had not contemplated this before, but yes, I guess there is! I have had a lot of cats in my lifetime, but right now, our family has two – Max and Jasper. Max chose me as his person. He was the inspiration of the first drawing I did of a cat when I was doing the Rescue Rhino comic. He's a medium-to-long-haired cat; a real fuzzball! He likes watching me slowly pour water from a cup into the bathtub. Sometimes he bats at the water, but often he just watches it. I think this game is a bit of where I got the watchfulness of Fluffy, plus Max has his own secret. He is a cuddle bug, but only with me. Most people never even get a chance to see him because he is the proverbial “scaredy-cat,” disappearing whenever others are around.

What are you currently working on?

I have started a children's chapter book series for ages 7-12. It's a sister and brother adventure series with slightly spooky themes. The first is entitled, My Dog Sees Ghosts and the second is tentatively called, My Cat Hears Vampires. I hope to have the first two published by late summer.

For anyone who wants to be notified when the new books are released, I have a VIP list that they can join. Just go to my website and sign up. As a thank you, they will receive a mini-pdf comic featuring Endangered Species Superheroes.

For anyone interested in Endangered Species Superheroes, it is available on Amazon, or they can follow this link for more information:

About the author: Dakota Duncan is known as “Mom” to two human children, two dogs, and two cats. She has been an animal lover since a very early age and recalls that Jane Goodall was her first hero. She's excited to share her love of animals and nature and hopes to inspire others to be good caretakers of the earth and its inhabitants.

Dakota has always loved writing and recalls writing her first play in the third grade where a classmate was too embarrassed to say the word “pregnant” from her script. Her writing skills helped her earn a Bachelor's degree in her early 20's and then a Juris Doctorate degree in her 40's. Dakota is a member of the Oregon State Bar and currently lives with her wife and children in Washington State. Besides writing and drawing, Dakota loves reading, kayaking, traveling and playing with Legos.

If you are interested in finding out more about Dakota and keeping up with her latest work, please go to her website:


Lone Star Cats said...

Sounds like a pawsome graphic novel!

Mickey's Musings said...

That was a really cool interview!
Sounds like an interesting book too :)
The author is pretty neat as well.
Purrs Georgia,Julie and JJ

Patricia T said...

Sounds like a great book. Thanks, Melissa and Mudpie!

Brian's Home Blog said...

That was a darn good interview and a very cool book!

Eastside Cats said...

I believe in animal communicators; I've even dabbled in it myself, but didn't keep up with it. Animals do not think like humans; it's more images, colors, and feelings. I am looking for a class to take, to continue to hone my skills.

pilch92 said...

That sounds great. I like sloths too :)

Three Chatty Cats said...

Sounds like a nice graphic novel! I'll have to check it out.

World of Animals, Inc said...

Great interview, Mudpie. We think you need your own late night talk show. Looks like a great book. Thanks for sharing. Have a great rest of your day.
World of Animals

catladymac said...

The Rescue Rhino comic sounds great too ! Is it available somewhere ? (It's not on Amazon.) Great review !

Lola The Rescued Cat said...

What a great interview, Mudpie! This sounds like a fab book!

meowmeowmans said...

Great interview, Mudpie! This graphic novel sounds really good. Fluffy's alter ego being a Sumatran rhino? Awesome!

Momma Kat and Her Bear Cat said...

What an interesting and unique take on several different genres.

Irynadreamer said...

Thank you for this great review. I also write reviews on different books and online essays. It's really interesting

The Menagerie Mom said...

I have never read a graphic novel, but I think I just found the first one I'll be reading!

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