Rottnest Island is home to one of the world’s cutest and happiest animals–the quokka. Clancy is a young quokka, determined to discover all the wonders of Rottnest, or Rotto, as the locals like to call it. But there is trouble in paradise, and Clancy finds himself on a thrilling adventure that will test his character.
Targeted Age Group:: 5-10 years
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
A trip to Rottnest Island with my family was the inspiration for the Rotto! series. The quokkas there are incredibly cute and friendly, and they enchanted everyone that had come to meet them. Seeing the wonder in my children's eyes sparked many ideas, and I was compelled to write the first adventure series about these amazing animals.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The characters were inspired by the quokkas we met on our trip to Rottnest Island. They each seemed to have their own personalities and were so friendly and curious, they practically wrote themselves into the book.
The first rays of the morning sun shone through the hole in the roof of the cave, creating a soft light over the white sandy floor. Clancy’s eyes flickered open and he rubbed them with his paw, waking up. He looked around the cave and saw all the other quokkas still fast asleep in their little corners and nooks, some of them huddled together. Clancy’s mother lay on her side nearby, a little quokka nose poking out from her pouch which belonged to his baby sister, Emma, who was just a few days old. Behind his mother, Clancy’s father snored in a deep sleep.
Clancy loved being the first to wake up; there was something special about it.
He leaned back onto his hind legs and stretched his front paws towards the roof high above, then hopped across the sandy floor to a small spring of water. He had a drink then took a pawful of water and washed his furry face. Wide awake now, he hopped along the edge of the stream, following it out through the entrance to a sand dune. Clancy sat back on his haunches, overlooking a stunning beach. He was only a youngster, and there was much of Rottnest Island he had not yet explored. But so far, the beach right outside his clan’s cave was his very favourite place. The Basin, as the beach was known, had soft white sand and pristine turquoise water. It was flanked on the left and right by tall, rocky outcrops, which protected it from rough seas, and kept the water calm and flat most of the time.
Clancy snapped a leaf off a tree and munched on it as he hopped down the dune to the beach. He walked along the water’s edge. Like most quokkas, he had never been swimming before.
“Quokkas are land creatures,” his father had told him, “and unless you want to end up in a seal’s belly, you’d better stay on land. Young quokkas make a perfect seal meal, I’ve seen it before. A little quokka frolicking in the water, then swish! Taken, fast as lightning. Never seen again.”
This story had frightened Clancy enough to keep him out of the water, but he couldn’t stay away from the beach, and loved to stroll along the water’s edge. The sun was already quite warm and the water was still and so clear he could see the white sand at the bottom. It looked very inviting. He had never seen a seal, and his friend Cobba had told him seals lived on the other side of the island.
I’ll just go in a little way, just get my paws wet, he thought. He looked around, checking that there weren’t any other quokkas about, then Clancy waded in. The cool, refreshing water was more wonderful than he had imagined, and he was sure it would be even more wonderful if he went for a swim. What harm could come from a little dip? The water is so clear, I’ll spot a seal coming from miles away!
Convinced it was safe, he waded out a bit deeper so the lovely water came up to his chest. Paradise! he thought, and ducked his head under the water. It was magical. So cool, so pleasant, like nothing he’d ever experienced. He rolled onto his back, and discovered that he could float. Paddling with his hind legs, he put his front paws behind his head and propelled himself along in the shallows. This is the life, he thought.
Then something under the water brushed against his back, sending fear shuddering through him. He stood up in the chest-deep water and got a fright. Lying right in front of him, just below the surface of the water, was a black stingray. Though he was relieved it wasn’t a seal, he was still a bit nervous. He’d seen plenty of stingrays from the beach, but had never been up this close to one before. He had heard how stingrays could kill with their barbed tails if they felt threatened, so he decided to keep perfectly still. The ray flapped its wing-like fins, making gentle ripples in the water. It seemed to be saying hello, and Clancy thought it was only polite to reply.
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