“I spent a fortune building my collection! I went against every international law to capture protected species… and now my dream is being BLOWN TO BITS!” — Vissia De Vissen, The Secret of Whale Island, p. 44.
|Rafaella Seccia and Christina Giorgilli
|Animal Comic, Fiction
|Environmental Themes and Issues
|Anthropomorphism, Animal Captivity, Animal Abuse, Animals in Danger, Endangered Species, Ocean Conservation
|Thea Sisters: Nonhuman (Animal), female protagonists
|Protagonist’s Level of Environmental Agency
|Level 5: High Environmental Agency and Activism
|Ocean, Fictional Whale Island
The Thea Stilton series centers on the five Thea Sisters, a group of anthropomorphic mice friends who are studying to become journalists like their idol, the fictional mouse journalist Thea Stilton. The Secret of Whale Island takes place at the beginning of a new academic year at Mouseford Academy, the university that the Thea Sisters and other mice attend on the fictional Whale Island. Two events occur at the beginning of every school year: an annual dance and the arrival of the whales in the coastal waters surrounding the island. As the Thea Sisters help prepare for the dance, they hear stories about a violent orca that has arrived before the other whales and that is now attacking fishing boats. Curiously, the comic does not anthropomorphize any of the aquatic animals, while the mice characters behave like humans and wear human clothes.
While they investigate the attacks, the Thea Sisters see a ship capture the wild orca. They pursue the ship to a nearby private island owned by Vissia De Vissen, a wealthy cosmetics company owner and the mother of two Mouseford Academy students. There, they discover that Vissia has built a private collection of captured marine life, including the first orca’s mate, which it has been seeking when it attacks the ships. The Thea Sisters use media pressure to get Vissia to release the aquatic animals, and the comic concludes with the girls celebrating their victory at the dance.
The comic includes several footnotes that contain educational information about the endangered species captured by Vissia, such as one note that states, “The two wings of the angel shark are actually its pectoral fins. It lives along the coasts in temperate waters. During the day it spends its time hidden under the sand, leaving only its eyes showing” (Stilton 37). Additionally, the Thea Sisters and other characters repeatedly condemn Vissia’s actions, pointing out the wildness of the animals and the aquarium’s lack of adequate space for the orcas. For the most part, however, the comic focuses more on the dance and the Thea Sisters’ confrontation with Vissia than on educating readers about nature.