The Message, published in October 1996 and written by K.A. Applegate, is the fourth book in the Animorphs series. It is the first book narrated by Cassie.

This article is written from a Real World point of view.


Official Description

It all started with the dreams. But Cassie didn't pay much attention to them. She and her friends had all been having weird dreams ever since they'd first learned to morph. Maybe it was just some crazy side effect.

Then Cassie discovered that she and Tobias had been having the exact same dreams. Dreams about the ocean. And a strange feeling that someone is calling to them. Calling for help. Cassie, Tobias, Jake, Rachel, and Marco have to figure out if the dreams are a message -- or a trap. And if it is a trap, it could mean the end -- for everyone...

Plot Summary

Cassie and Tobias are having strange dreams about a presence in the ocean. Jake sees a news item on television about debris with what looks like Andalite writing on it, that has washed up on the beach.  When he shows it to the others, Cassie and Tobias happen to have such strong visions at that time that they momentarily pass out. The Animorphs decide to investigate, and acquire dolphin morphs to do so.

The Message Illustration

The first page illustration of The Message featuring Cassie swimming in the ocean in her dolphin morph.

While out in the ocean, they find a humpback whale under attack by a group of sharks. The Animorphs fight the sharks and drive them off, and Marco is nearly killed in the process. Marco is able to morph back to his human form, and the whale, grateful, saves him from drowning. The whale speaks to Cassie through song, telling her about a strange place of grass and trees under the ocean. Cassie has a feeling that this place is of Andalite origin, and the Animorphs wonder if Cassie's and Tobias's visions are a sort of distress call from an Andalite trapped in the ocean

They decide that the distress call is connected to the morphing ability, and Cassie and Tobias feel it the strongest because Cassie is the most in control of her morphing ability and Tobias is trapped in a morph. They also figure out that Visser Three  could be receiving the message and that the Yeerks are probably looking for the lost Andalite as well.

The Andalite's location is too far from the shore for the Animorphs to reach under the two-hour morphing limit, so they (except Tobias) morph into seagulls and stow away on a large container ship (called the Newmar, from Monrovia, headed towards Singapore) that is heading in the right direction. They abandon ship and morph to dolphin when they are in range and discover the Dome of an Andalite Dome ship deep beneath the ocean's surface.
Animorphs as dolphins find andalite dome ship the message japanese illustration

The Animorphs, morphed as dolphins, find the dome of the Andalite dome ship on the ocean floor.

They enter through an airlock and meet Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill. Marco quickly gives him the nickname Ax, and the Animorphs tell him that he is the only survivor of the Andalite-Yeerk battle in Earth orbit and that they met and received the morphing power from Prince Elfangor. Ax reveals that Elfangor was, in fact, his older brother.

The meeting is brief however, as the Yeerks discover the sunken Dome ship and begin to drop depth charges. Ax had previously acquired a tiger shark, and he and the Animorphs escape. They are pursued by Visser Three in Mardrut morph; as they tire, Visser Three gains on them. The Animorphs decide to make a last stand, but are saved when Visser Three is attacked and chased off by a pod of sperm whales. The whales give the tired Animorphs a ride back to the shore.

Ax pledges to fight with the Animorphs and adopts Jake as his prince. He acquires Jake, Rachel, Cassie, and Marco and mixes the DNA from each in what is called a Frolis Maneuver to create his own human morph. The Animorphs decide to hide him in the woods near Cassie's farm.


Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

  • Ax (First Appearance)


Other Characters:



Contributions to the Series' Story Arc

  • The Animorphs meet Elfangor's brother, Ax.
  • Ax is introduced.


Morpher Morphs acquired Morphs used
Jake Bottlenose Dolphin, Seagull Trout, Bottlenose Dolphin, Seagull
Rachel Bottlenose Dolphin, Seagull Trout, Bottlenose Dolphin, Seagull
Cassie Squirrel, Bottlenose Dolphin, Seagull Squirrel, Trout, Bottlenose Dolphin, Seagull
Marco Bottlenose Dolphin, Seagull Trout, Bottlenose Dolphin, Seagull
Ax Tiger Shark, Human (Cassie, Marco, Rachel, Jake's DNA) Tiger Shark, Human (made from a mix of Cassie, Marco, Rachel, and Jake's DNA)
Visser Three -- Mardrut


  • The cover quote is, "Sometimes you have to change a little more than your mind...."
  • The inside front cover quote is, "Cassie's acting a little fishy...."
    4228 A Animorphs Cassie Dolphin Jigsaw Puzzle Catalog image

    Cassie (and the other Animorphs) in dolphin morph come across the dome of the GalaxyTree dome ship, with Ax inside. From one of the Animorphs Jigsaw Puzzles.

  • In later books, its revealed that the species of shark Ax had acquired in this book was a Tiger shark.
  • The six dolphins from The Gardens are named after the main characters on the TV Show Friends.
  • It's revealed that morphing also allows its user to combine DNA of different individuals. 
  • Originally, Ax was supposed to be introduced in the second book . But once it became clearer that this was going to be a long-running series, K.A. decided to delay his entrance into the world of Animorphs.
  • We see the Frolis Maneuver being used for the first time in this book as Ax uses it to create himself a human form by mixing the DNA of Jake, Cassie, Rachel, and Marco. We later learn in the series that Elfangor once used the same morphing technique to create a human form for himself in The Andalite Chronicles as well. This technique isn't addressed or used much on the most part (other than by Ax) in the series, but #35: The Proposal focuses on Marco having trouble controlling his morphing ability due to stress, where he accidentally uses this technique to end up creating weird animal mixtures.
  • Jake is officially pronounced as "Prince Jake" in this book by Ax, and he is continued to be called this by Ax throughout the series, even though Jake insists that "It's just Jake".
  • Promotional Tie-In: This book featured a contest for Animorphs fans (as seen in the U.S Cover) where they were asked to send in their responses on what type of animal they wished they could morph into and why. From the answers, 3 winners would be picked who would then be morphed into the animal of their choice and published within future books. The entries were picked on October 1996, December 1996, and February 1997. You can see pictures of the winners morphing their chosen animals at the back of books 10, 12 and Megamorphs #1.
  • One of the Animorphs Jigsaw Puzzles depicts a scene from this book where the Animorphs in dolphin morph discover Ax inside the dome of a dome ship on the ocean floor.


Original Release - US images

Original Release - International Covers

International Back Covers

2011 Re-release Gallery

Taken from

Main Series #1 The Invasion | #2 The Visitor | #3 The Encounter | #4 The Message | #5 The Predator | #6 The Capture | #7 The Stranger | #8 The Alien | #9 The Secret | #10 The Android | #11 The Forgotten | #12 The Reaction | #13 The Change | #14 The Unknown | #15 The Escape | #16 The Warning | #17 The Underground | #18 The Decision | #19 The Departure | #20 The Discovery | #21 The Threat | #22 The Solution | #23 The Pretender | #24 The Suspicion | #25 The Extreme | #26 The Attack | #27 The Exposed | #28 The Experiment | #29 The Sickness | #30 The Reunion | #31 The Conspiracy | #32 The Separation | #33 The Illusion | #34 The Prophecy | #35 The Proposal | #36 The Mutation | #37 The Weakness | #38 The Arrival | #39 The Hidden | #40 The Other | #41 The Familiar | #42 The Journey | #43 The Test | #44 The Unexpected | #45 The Revelation | #46 The Deception | #47 The Resistance | #48 The Return | #49 The Diversion | #50 The Ultimate | #51 The Absolute | #52 The Sacrifice | #53 The Answer | #54 The Beginning
Megamorphs The Andalite's Gift | In the Time of Dinosaurs | Elfangor's Secret | Back to Before
Chronicles The Andalite Chronicles | The Hork-Bajir Chronicles | VISSER | The Ellimist Chronicles
Alternamorphs The First Journey | The Next Passage
TV Tie-Ins Meet the Stars of Animorphs

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