The Cross Family: Saving the Komodo Dragon

animals environment habitats Komodo dragon STEM summer

The Cross family has many unique stories to tell, but perhaps their most interesting one: how they hope to save the Komodo dragons with their children’s book Dark Shade The Determined Dragon. I sat down with Carol, Emmy (11), and Ander (8) to chat about their book and why the Komodo dragon is so important to them. 

The family’s love of the Komodo dragon and marine reptiles alike began when they started watching Steve Irwin when Ander was little. In fact, it was Ander who developed a deep fascination with the Komodo dragon. Carol, seeing the way Steve Irwin and the Komodo dragon resonated with her son, reached out to the Australian Zoo and told them about the impact Steve Irwin had on her family. They ended up getting back to Carol and ultimately the family decided to dedicate the book to the Irwin family not only because of the role the Irwin’s played but also because of another key factor…

Carol revealed “the Komodo dragon is moving land due to climate change and land loss. They only live on two islands in the entire world in the Indonesian archipelago. They went from threatened when we started the book to now critically endangered.” The Cross family hopes to inspire a similar love for the Komodo dragon in other children that the Irwin family did for them and marine reptiles. 

When Covid happened and everyone was quarantining the Cross family took it as an opportunity to make a difference and wrote a book in hopes of saving the Komodo dragon. Ander and Emmy did the whole thing themselves. Although Carol wrote the script, with a bit of rhyme and rhythm in hopes Snoop Dog could one day rap their book, it was the kids who came up with the back stories and the story arc. They were the ones that made the dragon, Dark Shade, the hero of the book and found every true fact about Komodo dragons featured in the book. Except, of course, when Dark Shade reveals he wants to fly. 

When asked what their favorite part about writing their book was Ander, who’s dream job is to be a marine biologist revealed “I liked designing the characters personalities and flaws.” Emmy, who’s dream job is to be a food scientist, said “The character development was my favorite part and developing these traits and little details about them.” Each little author also revealed their favorite characters Dark Shade and Anissa, respectively. 

They also shared a similar desire in what they hope readers take away from the book. Emmy hopes readers develop an appreciation for the little things and above all, as voiced by Ander and Carol, they hope Dark Shade can be a real dragon kids fall in love with and eventually want to save. 

To help promote their book they held a bake sale where they sold homemade hand pies, made by Emmy herself who is a wonderful chef (check out her Dark Shade cake below). Although they only raised $60, they made valuable connections with local libraries and their ultimate goal was accomplished: to make sales and raise awareness. 

Be sure to snag one of these books when it hits shelves later this year! Not only is the book spreading an amazing awareness, but 20 percent of their profits will go to the Komodo dragon and wildlife conservation! In addition to buying their book Carol is working with Woodland Park Zoo, Wild Republic, and Cycle Dog (in Portland) to create a Dark Shade stuffy for kids to get when they purchase one of their books!

Can’t get enough of the Cross family? Check out Carol’s book “Little Book of Covid Survival Through Laughter” where she shares funny snippets from her everyday life and interactions with her kids that are laugh-out-
loud worthy. All money received from this book goes to funding their new book on Komodo dragons so be sure to check it out! 

The Cross family is truly an inspiration for how small actions can have a big impact! Everyone at Lauren Simone can hardly wait for their book “Dark Shade the Determined Dragon” illustrated by Simonne-Anais and her brother, Zachary-Michael Clarke soon to be released!

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