Zoonauts: The Secret of Animalville

Zoonauts: The Secret of Animalville

by Richard Mueller


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Who are the Zoonauts?

David Simons created the Zoonauts who are based on some famous zoo animals and other animals that went into space with the international space programs. These Zoonauts have extraordinary talents and powers. Their travels take them to different continents and cultures.

Readers will be entertained and educated by the exciting adventures of the Zoonauts, which include NASA's Chimpanzee ""Ham,"" the Australian Koala ""Cough Drop"" of the San Diego Zoo, ""Patty Cake"" the Gorilla of the Central Park and Bronx Zoos, the famous Pandas ""Hsing-Hsing"" and ""Ling-Ling"" of the National Zoo, and the Russian space dog, ""Laika.""

Fishwick and Kornblend are Amadorian dragon-like scout pilots on an assigned mission in search of Zoonauts who they hope to capture and bring back to Amador.

The Amadorians provide comic relief in this high-flying, science fiction adventure where good triumphs over evil.

The story of the Zoonauts is a great addition to Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math (STEM) programs that stimulates creativity.

New Kinds of Superheroes!

Zoonauts is ""a creative teaching tool for middle school...a Sci-Fi adventure novel, first in a planned series...fun, intelligent, worldbuilding!""~ Kirkus Review


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781496962805
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 10/14/2015
Pages: 232
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.49(d)

About the Author

Richard Mueller is author of Jernigan's Egg, Time Machine 24, and Ghostbusters: The Supernatural Spectacular. He has written scripts for Dogfights, Legend of the Dragon, Matrimony Con Hijos, Kong the Animated Series, Stargate: Infinity, Milo's Great Adventure, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, Robocop: Alpha Commando, Roswell Conspiracies: Aliens, Myths and Legends, Ghostbusters, Captain Simian & The Space Monkeys, Wing Commander Academy, Hypernauts, X-Men, Exosquad, Captain Planet and the Planeteers, Conan: The Adventurer, Land of the Lost, Batman: The Animated Series, Super Dave: Daredevil for Hire, The Real Ghostbusters, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, Tiny Toon Adventures, Married with Children, Police Academy: The Series, C.O.P.S., Starcom: The US Space Force, Dinosaucers, Spiral Zone, Adventures of the Gummi Bears, Milo's Great Adventure, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, Motorcop, X-Men, Land of the Lost, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, and Married with Children. He lives in Los Angeles.

Read an Excerpt


The Secret of Animalville

By Richard Mueller, Madalyn Abrams


Copyright © 2015 David Simons
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4969-6280-5



Fishwick and Kornblend were not happy Amadorians as they reached the Supreme Palace of Amador under the poisonous yellow sky.

The bus that recently delivered Fishwick and Kornblend to the palace had broken down. The Amadorian driver was busy hitting the boiler with a wrench and calling it names. Fishwick and Kornblend ignored him as they stood and stared at the palace.

Calling it a palace was a kindness, although it was certainly large enough. A big ugly rock pile, it reared up against the smoky skies. Amadorian emperors and warlords had been adding to the thing for centuries with no thought as to what it looked like. The result was a lumpy, great building as ugly as any in the Galaxy. It was surrounded by a low city that had a bad reputation and was thick with smoke and machine noises. It was a strip mall Kingdom on a slum of a planet.

Fishwick shook his great scaly head.

"I hate this planet," Fishwick said.

"But this is our planet," Kornblend hooted, blowing the soot out of his snout stops.

"I still hate it," said Fishwick. "In the Amadorian Codex Verse XIII, Chapter 27, it specifically states that if you lie down with mud weasels, you'll get up smelling like, well, mud weasels. And that's not so good!"

"Can we get this over with?" Kornblend asked.

A very old Amadorian Palace Guard, leaning on a six-foot-long battle ax weapon, eyed them suspiciously. His scales were painted in a pattern of bile green and yellow. He looked like he'd been standing guard at the palace for a hundred years.

"What do you two bozos want?" the Palace Guard asked with his jaw creaking.

"We have an appointment," said Kornblend.

"What?" asked the Palace Guard. He was hard of hearing.

"We have an appointment," repeated Kornblend.

"What? Speak up. Don't whisper," said the Palace Guard. He was apparently deaf.

"We have an appointment you old fish bag!" Kornblend bellowed. "Let us in!"

Instead, the Palace Guard leveled his weapon. Fishwick and Kornblend looked at each other and then at the old Palace Guard. The charge light on his weapon was dark and the battery was missing. Fishwick gently pushed the tip aside and then screamed into the old Palace Guard's ear.

"Fishwick and Kornblend to see His Awfulness," said Fishwick.

"Why didn't you say so?" said the old Palace Guard.

He tossed the useless weapon down and waddled to the intercom. He had to hit it several times before a red light came on.

"Fishwick and Kornblend are here," he shouted.

With a loud click, the massive doors swung open. Thrusting the old Palace Guard aside, Kornblend strode through the Palace. Fishwick followed, letting out a large sigh.

The palace interior was no better than its exterior. Fishwick and Kornblend had been there many times and were familiar with the protocol. They strode down the corridor and dragged their fat tails. At the end of the corridor, the two dragons came to a door. In the manner of old partners and all soldiers, they scowled and tidied up each other's uniforms.

"Well, you look like crap," said Kornblend.

"Speak for yourself, Kornface," replied Fishwick.

"Why do you think he wants to see us?" asked Kornblend.

"Probably to give me a medal," Fishwick growled.

"You? For what?" asked Kornblend.

"For putting up with you, you dumb iguana," said Fishwick.

Amadorians all look a bit like dragons, but Fishwick was the taller and looked like the sneakier of the two. Kornblend's squat brutishness marked him as the tough guy. They were dressed in shabby Amadorian fighter pilot gear with uniform badges.

Above them a robotic eye swiveled around to look at them. Tre-Pok's voice suddenly blasted out from all sides around them and he was not amused. Tre-Pok was the High General and Chief Warlord.

"Fishwick! Kornblend! Get in here!" said Tre-Pok.

Fishwick and Kornblend stumbled into Tre-Pok's Strategy Room and tripped over their tails, before they landed in a heap on the floor. They untangled themselves and staggered to their feet.

"Get up!" screamed Tre-Pok.

"Yes, Your Awfulness," saluted the two pilots, thumping their chests Roman-style.

Tre-Pok glared at them. He was decked out in leather, medals, and attitude! Some medals were directly attached to his scales. Some scales were covered with shiny metal plates. He examined the two pilots as if he had found them on his boot.

"I've got a job for you two mouth-breathers," Tre-Pok ordered. "And I want it done right!"

"Yesssir!" responded Kornblend and Fishwick together.

"Silence! You are using up my air!" Tre-Pok said. He stalked to his command console.

Fishwick and Kornblend trailed behind him as he stabbed a button on the console. A huge screen dropped from the ceiling and narrowly missed Fishwick, who yelped involuntarily.

Kornblend clamped his hands around Fishwick's jaws in the hope that Tre-Pok hadn't heard, but the High General and Chief Warlord of Amador was busy banging his scaly fist on a projector dome. Suddenly, the screen lit up with a picture of Earth. Tre-Pok gave a satisfied grunt.

"I want you to go to Earth," Tre-Pok said. "I trust you remember where it is?"

He twirled around to face the two pilots who nodded vigorously. The image of Earth on the Command Console faded into an image of a Siberian Husky named Laika that the Russians had sent into space years ago.

"Bring back this creature alive and well," bellowed Tre-Pok.

"Alive and well ..." repeated Kornblend.

Fishwick elbowed Kornblend.

"Owww," Kornblend cried out. "How do we find him, Your Fearfulness?"

"Use the genetic sensors we provided you with, Bonehead," replied Tre-Pok. "Do a good job!"

Tre-Pok's angry response frightened them. He sat down in a large, creaking chair and looked at the two quaking pilots.

"If you do, there could be medals and another stripe for each of you," promised Tre-Pok. "If you don't, then we might have the same sort of problems here as we did with those blood-sucking plants from Veratex."

The two scout pilots turned white. They remembered what they had heard about that dreadful bloodbath. They saluted so hard they almost broke the bones in their chests.

"Now, get out of here!" Tre-Pok screamed.

The two pilots were out through the door with a slam before TrePok's words finished ringing in the filthy air.

Tre-Pok frowned at them as they left but didn't notice the curtains move behind him as the High Rotocaster slipped into the Strategy Room. The Supreme Spiritual Advisor to the Emperor of Amador, the High Rotocaster had been around so long that no one remembered his name – only that he had somehow survived the Veratex disaster. He was now a spooky dragon, so skinny that he looked like a skeleton. His scales were translucent so that you could almost see through them, but not quite completely. His eyes were red and his voice unworldly — an equivalent of Shakespeare's ghost in Hamlet. When the High Rotocaster cleared his throat, it sounded as if someone was eating lightbulbs.

"Sir, Ahhhhh," said Tre-Pok with a startled jump and bow.

"This had better work," said the High Rotocaster. He stared into the distance, immersed deeply in his own thoughts. He would do so frequently, and this caused Tre-Pok distress and drove him crazy.

Tre-Pok nodded, but the High Rotocaster's attention was focused on the picture of Laika on the command console.

"I must find their weaknesses," commanded The High Rotocaster. "We can not afford another mistake."

"I shall not fail the Emperor," Tre-Pok promised. Secretly, he had his doubts.



Methuselah, the Stroud family parrot, sat in the scrub oak outside Mrs. Patruski's eighth-grade class and listened to Jennifer Stroud present her assignment.

"That was a very creative story, Jennifer, but I think we have heard enough right now about Amador and silly space dragons!" interrupted Mrs. Patruski.

"You were instructed to write a story involving something that happened to your family, not science fiction, or worse, fantasy!"

"But ...," began Jen. (Jen was her nickname. Everyone called her Jen except Mrs. Patruski.)

Mrs. Patruski waved her to silence.

"If I give the whole class an assignment, I expect all of you to do it," said Mrs. Patruski. "This assignment was not just about writing anything you felt like writing."

Mrs. Patruski glared at Jennifer.

Jen tried to hide her anger and embarrassment and her urge to say something. She thought anything she might say would only make matters worse. Mrs. Patruski made Jen so nervous that she just sank back into her chair without a word.

It was already turning into a bad spring term and it was still only February. Jen just knew what her brother Cody would say when she got home: "I told you so." "How could you be so dumb?" "When are you going to learn?"

Cody was three years younger, but he always had a better sense of what "outsiders" might understand about their strange family. It made it so hard to have any friends when you couldn't tell them anything about your home.

Jen reflected on the truth of her circumstances. Truth number one: No child had ever grown up in the kind of family like the Strouds. While their nonhuman nursemaids cared for them and taught them things no human child had learned, Jen was tired of telling other girls that they couldn't visit her home. While she often went to their homes to study, usually some animal would watch everything she did. She always felt like she was scrutinized and, at times, the lack of privacy was too much to bear. Jen felt very gloomy as she left school that day.

"What was that weird story all about?" asked Sara, Jen's best friend. Sara interrupted Jen's thoughts as the two walked home from school.

"Oh, just something Methuselah the Parrot told me," Jen blurted out. Afterwards she realized what she had said.

"You're bonkers, Jen!" said Sara. "Next you're going to tell me you know why the Space Shuttle Columbia blew up over Texas!"

"Oh, Sara!" cried Jen.

Jen started to cry harder than she ever had before.

"It's just awful! I've got to tell somebody, or I'll burst," said Jen.

"Tell me!" said Sara.

"Can you keep a secret?" asked Jen.

Sara nodded.

"I mean a real secret," said Jen. "Not just something dumb!"

"Of course, silly!" said Sara. "Duh!"

"Sara, I need to tell you something, but can't," said Jen, as she pulled herself together and wiped away the tears. She realized that telling Sara anything was both dangerous and useless, yet she had to show her!

"Sara, I need to let you in on the secret of Animalville, but don't know how. Let's go find Methuselah. He is a real smart bird and may have an idea!"

Sarafina Flores-Abaroa just knew that Jen had had too many marshmallow cream pies for lunch and thought Jen was just experiencing a sugar high.

"Ready, Jen?" called Mrs. Stroud, as she pulled up in the car to give the girls a ride home.

"Hi, Mom," Jen greeted her. "Where's our regular driver?"

"He is on a special mission today dealing with a crash," said Mrs. Stroud.

"Mom, can Sara come home today since there is no one around to report us?" asked Jen.

"You know the rules, Jen," warned Mrs. Stroud.

"But ... Mommmmm!" Jen pleaded.

"No, and that's final!" said Mrs. Stroud.

"Then let me walk home, so Sara and I can spend more time together," Jen pleaded.

"OK, but don't be too late!" said Mrs. Stroud.

While they were talking, Cody arrived. He climbed into the car and they drove off.

"Jen, don't feel too bad," Sara confided. "At least you have a real family! Grandma Camille is all I have since my mom ran off to 'find herself' in Utah. She doesn't understand half of what goes on since she only speaks Spanish."

"I know, but sometimes they are just too 'real' and they always watch us," said Jen. She recalled how difficult it had been to communicate with Sara's Grandmother Camille when she tried to thank her for the authentic Mexican dinner she had prepared for them that was such a great treat!

"I guess they love you," Sara almost whispered. "I wish I had that."

The girls said almost nothing as they walked on through the quiet streets near the edge of town. There, past the last house, squatting behind the fence, was Animalville.

A huge statue of Texas Bob cast its long shadow across the road where the military guard shack stood. The road disappeared down a tunnel. Jen traveled the road daily, but none of her friends had ever been through the tunnel, not even Sara.

"Wait for me there, Sara, and I'll be right back," said Jen. She pointed to a stand of cottonwood trees near the entrance.

"OK," said Sara.

Sara sat under the tree and watched Jen wave to soldiers in the guard shack as she disappeared down the tunnel. About 10 minutes elapsed. Sara started to get nervous. Suddenly, Cody showed up from nowhere.

"Oh, it's you!" said Sara. "Say, what's wrong with Jen?"

Sara questioned Cody and shook off her surprise at Cody's arrival. She imagined herself a secret agent, but had no idea how close she was to learning a real top secret.

"Nothing!" said Cody. "What do you mean?"

"Jen told some crazy science-fiction story in school today about another planet with dragons ... she said something weird about the story ... that it was one of your parrots that told her the story ...then she just burst into tears," explained Sara.

Cody rolled his eyes as only a nine-year-old brother can.

"Women!" said Cody emphatically. "Now we're in for it!"

At that precise moment, Jen rounded the corner of the cottonwoods with Methuselah the Parrot perched on her shoulder.

Sara eyed the old bird and the thought crossed her mind: "What if Jen was telling the truth?"

"What have you done?" Cody cried. "I told you they wouldn't understand about Amador. I told you so!"

Cody disappeared and ran into the tunnel like the White Rabbit in Alice and Wonderland.

The guards totally ignored him as they had seen the Stroud children argue before.

Jen and Sara looked knowingly at each other. Sara realized Jen was right about one thing: her brother Cody was, at times, a pain.

Suddenly Methuselah spoke.

"Jen, Cody is right! Your Amador report was a big mistake. A big mistake!" said Methuselah.

As far as Sara was concerned, the impossible had just occurred. Methuselah had spoken — not in just parrot-speak — but like a real human.

"Excuse me, Sara, given my language gifts, the other animals here in Animalville have chosen me to be their spokes-being," said Methuselah. He keenly sensed Sara's amazement.

"What I am about to tell you is, of course, a top secret – a military secret. Do you know what that means?" asked Methuselah.

Sara nodded in disbelief and stared at Methuselah.

"Good!" Methuselah continued. "Because with that secret comes the responsibility of never telling anyone else ... and if you do, terrible things could happen to Jen ... to you ... and to all of us. ... So if you don't want to know ..."

Sara was scared and her mouth was dry, but she was excited beyond words. She was totally amazed at Methuselah's admission and wanted to know this secret more than anything in the world.

"I-I-I won't tell anyone," Sara stammered. "I want to know."

"Very well," said Methuselah. "This is a report about a war between Earth and Amador. I will tell you the story of how Animalville came to be. I am older than most anyone and remember these things. I know how we came here and how we are saving the world."

"You mean there are other talking animals besides you?" Sara exclaimed.

"After hearing my story, you'll never look at animals the same way again," said Methuselah. "But if you will listen hard and wait for one of us to speak in your language, you know what? We just might!"

"Of course," interrupted Jen. "You won't look at the sky the same way either because there are things up there, flying just above our heads, that did not come from Earth. Strange creatures from another planet are waiting to conquer us, just like I said in my school paper!"


Excerpted from Zoonauts by Richard Mueller, Madalyn Abrams. Copyright © 2015 David Simons. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Preface, xiii,
Chapter One Who Are the Amadorians?, 1,
Chapter Two Methuselah's Tale, 7,
Chapter Three A Smart, Old Bird, 17,
Chapter Four Much Smarter, 22,
Chapter Five The Space Race, 26,
Chapter Six Not Alone, 38,
Chapter Seven Making Our Way, 45,
Chapter Eight Best Friend Lost, 49,
Chapter Nine The Strouds, 58,
Chapter Ten Fabulous Discoveries, 61,
Chapter Eleven Busted!, 71,
Chapter Twelve Animalville, USA, 79,
Chapter Thirteen Methuselah and General McIntosh, Superspies ..., 89,
Chapter Fourteen Aliens Revealed, 105,
Chapter Fifteen A Little Knowledge, 114,
Chapter Sixteen Complications, 123,
Chapter Seventeen First Contact, 132,
Chapter Eighteen Florida, 140,
Chapter Nineteen Back in Animalville, 154,
Chapter Twenty Meanwhile, Down in the Boondocks, 161,
Chapter Twenty-One Sky Above and Mud Below, 169,
Chapter Twenty-Two The Hunt for Patty Cake, 183,
Chapter Twenty-Three Nose to Nose, 190,
Chapter Twenty-Four Lucky Bravo, 196,
Appendix A Space Milestone Time Line, 199,
Appendix B David Simons Biography, 206,
Appendix C Author Richard Mueller Biography, 207,
Appendix D Illustrator Edigio Victor Dal Chele Biography, 208,
Appendix E List of Illustrations by Edigio Victor Dal Chele, 209,
Appendix F Map of Animalville, 210,
Appendix G Main Characters, 211,

What People are Saying About This

Roland L. Hennesay

"The multiple lessons are evident but not overt, and are well delivered, incorporated into the storyline perfectly. As a parent, I definitely think this show would be great for children." --Roland L. Hennesay for Reader Views, Zoonauts: The Secret of Animalville

Children's Bookwatch - James A. Cox

"First in a series intended for young adults ages 8-13, Zoonauts: The Secret of Animalville - Far Beyond the Wild is a fantastic adventure about super-empowered animals, each based on the real-life animals who pioneered the international space program. Together, the Zoonauts travel to different cultures and continents, all the while fighting to protect humanity from an alien invasion, led by the dragon-like Scout Pilots Kornblend and Fishwick. Upbeat and exciting, Zoonauts seamlessly weaves educational material into the adventure, subtly encouraging young readers to learn more about science, technology, engineering, and math. Highly recommended!" (Editor-in-Chief)

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