There was the Loch Ness Monster, then Champ in Lake Champlain; now there is Quassilla of Lake Quassapaug in Middlebury Connecticut. A book produced by husband and wife team Janis Hogan (writer) and by Don Farrell (illustrator), former Southbury residents, recounts the tale of a plesiosaurus from Mesozoic era rescued by Middle McFee of Quassmorrah Bay from the icy shores of northern Europe. Their journey takes them through a secret cave beneath Manhattan to a tiny spring-fed lake in CT.
The Legend of Quassilla: a Dinosaur’s Journey Home is a colorful picture book written in rhyming couplets for children 3 to 8 years old. Combining ice-age history with the 1930s birth of Trolley amusement parks in New England required a giant leap of faith, and a 10 year-old hero named Nicky brings it all together. The young descendant of the Quassilla Knighthood must find a way to save the lake from encroaching development and preserve the habitat for Quassilla and her friends. His solution, of course, is to build an amusement park.
“Three generations of my family have loved spending summer days and evenings on Lake Quassapaug,” Ms. Hogan says. “Lake Quassy Amusement Park has always felt enchanted to me. The lively music, flashing lights, even the wooden roller coaster are somewhat anachronistic set in this idyllic rural community. The idea of celebrating its uniqueness, and hopefully promoting its preservation just felt like something I needed to do.”
The idea was eight years in the making, Ms. Hogan said. “We were floating in our kayaks waving to the passengers on the Quassy Queen when the idea came to us. We needed a sea monster to watch over and protect the wellbeing of this beautiful place. The name ‘Quassilla’ was a natural.”
It wasn’t until they were vacationing miles away in southern Georgia that the idea came to fruition. “That’s when I finally put ink to paper. We were gone less than a month, and I already missed Lake Quassapaug. Writing this book and sharing it with my granddaughter and other children is a way of keeping it close.”
The Legend of Quassilla is currently available for purchase on the Quassilla.com website in both hardcover and e-book versions. Middlebury, Southbury, Woodbury and Waterbury libraries will receive complementary copies that will be available for check out.