The Story of the Real Dax!
The Story of the Real Dax!

The Story of the Real Dax!

One of the most important aspects of writing, specifically with fictional stories, is character creation. The character or characters are how your readers will relate with your adventure and enter into the world you've created. The more real they are to you, the more real they will be to your readers, and the more likable (or unlikable) they may be.

When we first started The Adirondack Kids, we had a pretty good idea who we wanted our characters to be. And we knew one of these individuals would be a sidekick-cat. Thus, we created Dax (short for "Adirondax"). We also knew we wanted this Dax to be a calico cat, because their unique color schemes and curious personalities; their adventurous spirit, so-to-speak.

When creating our characters, we used real life models to pose for photographs, for our illustrators to work from. This way, each person would like the same in each story. And we wanted nothing less for Dax. One afternoon my dad and I grabbed a towel, a small cage, and headed to the Rome Humane Society in Rome, NY. We were on the hunt to find a model for Dax, a calico kitten that would pose for our illustrator and to join our family.

After looking around at each cage in the humane society, the situation was looking pretty hopeless. We did see one calico cat, but he was older and had long hair, and we were looking for a young, short haired kitten. We thought perhaps another day we would have better luck, so we headed for the door.

Then we saw a cage that we had previously missed, right by the entrance. Inside were 5 or 6 kittens, including a short haired calico named Chickadee. I walked up to the cage, got down on one knee, and put my hand up to the cage. All the kittens immediately scurried to the back, except for incredibly conveniently for us, Chickadee. She then began to reach out to me and lick my fingers.

This was her. This was Dax.


We brought Dax home, where she lived with us for 18 long and fun-filled years. We have hundreds of photos of her from every conceivable angle, and doing all sorts of funny poses and activities. Though she will be missed, she will live on forever in the world of The Adirondack Kids ®.

Do you have a favorite story or scene with Dax in it? Comment below and let us know!


The real Dax, just like the real Justin, was a model for the character in the books. Here is a shot that Mrs. VanRiper used to create an illustration in book



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