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Stinky Cecil in Operation Pond Rescue

“There is a road project threatening the pond. If they manage to pave over the pond, then we’ll all move away, and you’ll be all alone here with no one to hunt” – Jeremy the worm, Stinky Cecil in Operation Pond Rescue, p. 99.

Creator(s) Paige Braddock (author)
PublisherAndrews McMeel Publishing
Publication Date2015
GenreAnimal Comic, Fiction
Environmental Themes and Issues Anthropomorphism, Habitat Destruction, Animals in Danger, Endangered Species, Educational Nature Facts
Protagonist’s Identity Stinky Cecil: Male, Nonhuman (Animal)
Protagonist’s Level of Environmental AgencyLevel 5: High Environmental Agency and Activism
Target Audience Middle Grade (8 to 12 years)
Settings Texas
Cover of Stinky Cecil in Operation Pond Rescue

Environmental Themes

Cecil the American toad has a peaceful life in a small pond. He passes the days judging pond splashing contests and spending time with his friends: Reggie, a short-lived fly; Jeff, a hamster who lives in a tree equipped with an elevator; Rayray, an endangered Jollyville Plateau Salamander; Sprout, a frog; and Jeremy, an earthworm. Creator Paige Braddock anthropomorphizes the animals, which talk and engage in some human-like behaviors. For instance, Jeff drives a remote controlled car, and all of the animals (except for the earthworm) walk on their hind legs.

The animals’ idyllic life is disrupted when a hungry hawk captures Cecil and carries the toad away, intending to eat him. While in the air, Cecil discovers that a freeway construction project will soon pave over the pond, destroying the animals’ habitat. He escapes and returns to the pond to warn the other creatures, and they travel to the construction site in hopes of halting the project.

Cecil is horrified to discover that humans are building a road that will soon pave over his pond in Stinky Cecil in Operation Pond Rescue.

First, Cecil and his friends attempt to sabotage the construction equipment. Cecil tries and fails to puncture a tractor’s tires, and Jeff the hamster attempts to chew through the electrical wires but gets electrocuted. When these preliminary efforts don’t succeed, the smaller animals recruit the hawk to drop rocks on the tractors, but the construction continues undeterred. Finally, human biologists arrive at the construction site and discover the endangered Jollyville Plateau Salamander, Rayray. They capture Rayray and halt the construction project. The comic concludes with the biologists releasing Rayray back at the pond, now equipped with a radio tag. Humorously, Rayray brags about his endangered status, telling the other animals, “It’s also important that those of us who are endangered help those who are less fortunate.” Cecil whispers to Jeremy, “He actually thinks being endangered is a good thing” (Braddock 117).

Human biologists discover Rayray, an endangered species of Jollyville Plateau Salamander, and halt the road construction project in Stinky Cecil in Operation Pond Rescue.

Despite the comic’s often humorous tone and its anthropomorphized portrayal of the animal characters, Braddock does successfully highlight the dangers of habitat destruction. For instance, when the animals attempt to persuade the hawk to join their cause, Jeremy the worm remarks, “There is a road project threatening the pond. If they manage to pave over the pond, then we’ll all move away, and you’ll be all alone here with no one to hunt.” Cecil adds, “Not to mention traffic, congestion, noise, road rage…” (Braddock 99). Later, Jeremy notes that the animals are “all connected in the ‘web of life,'” reminding readers about the importance of balanced ecosystems (Braddock 102).


The comic includes two illustrated, one-page fact sheets about the American Toad (Cecil) and the common earthworm (Jeremy). These paratexts educate readers about the animals’ habitats, biological traits, and diets.

An educational paratextual on the American Toad includes facts about Cecil’s species in Stinky Cecil in Operation Pond Rescue.

Additional Resources

Alverson, Brigid. “Teaching with Science Comics.” School Library Journal, 20 June 2017,

Posted in Animal Comic, Fiction

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