Vivian Vande Velde Main Page
Squirrel in the Museum
Ages: 6 - 10
Publisher: Holiday House
Book Description:

Pandemonium breaks out at the science museum as Twitch, the popular squirrel from 8 Class Pets + 1 Squirrel ÷ 1 Dog = Chaos, hitches a ride in a backpack on a school trip.

Pictures by Steve Bjorkman.

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Activities/Discussion Guide
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"The author-illustrator pair have perfected their formula for entertainment--a limited perspective, slapstick humor, and nonstop action... This field trip to remember will appeal to eager chapter-book readers, fans of talking-animal stories, and teachers looking for an engaging read-aloud" -- Kirkus Reviews

Where do you GET those ideas?


I had so much fun writing about Twitch the squirrel in 8 Class Pets + 1 Squirrel ÷ 1 Dog = Chaos that I wrote a second book, Squirrel in the House.

Then, a reading club at a school wrote to tell me that the really enjoyed 8 Class Pets, and that their favorite characters were Galileo and Newton, the Science Room geckos. I started thinking about the squabbling gecko brothers and decided they could encourage Twitch to tag along on the class’s field trip to a science museum.

Here is a picture one of the students included in her letter.


Thank you, Lauren Szkiany and your class at Williamson Elementary School!





            I am a very highly educated squirrel.

            I always paid attention to my mother’s life lessons.

            Some of my mother’s life lessons:

Don’t let an owl eat you.

Don’t let a weasel eat you.

Don’t let a fox eat you.

Don’t let a wolf eat you.

            Because I have an inquisitive mind, I asked my mother, “What are wolves?”

            She said, “I don’t know. But my mother told me not to let wolves eat me. And her mother told her, and her mother, and hers, on back as far as any squirrel can remember.”

            “Maybe there used to be wolves,” I said, “but there aren’t any more.”

            “Maybe,” she said. “But it would be a very bad thing for a squirrel to let a wolf eat him because his mother hadn’t warned him not to.”

            It is always better not to get eaten.

            My mother taught me other life lessons, too. 

            She taught me to be quick to get the food that people leave out for us, since birds think the people have put out the food for them, even though birds aren’t nearly as cute as squirrels.

            She taught me not to tell the birds that they aren’t cute (even though it’s easy to see) because it’s a useful thing to get along with other animals--not counting the owls, weasels, foxes, and wolves that would eat us.

            A life lesson I learned on my own, which I pass on to younger squirrels, is that while it’s good to look cute, a squirrel should try not to look so cute that people try to catch you and keep you as a pet.

            Besides the life lessons I learned from my mother, I am also highly educated because I live in a school yard. School is where people children learn their life lessons, since--for some reason--people mothers don’t teach their own young.

            I like to sit on the windowsills at School and watch through the glass as the children get taught--even though a lot of the lessons they learn are not nearly as useful as the ones squirrels learn.  My favorite window is by the library where my cousin, Sweetie the rat, lives in a cage he is smart enough to get out of--but he usually chooses not to. Both of us like to listen to the library teacher read stories to the people children. 

            I have other cousins who live at the school. There’s a hamster, and also a rabbit. Rabbits are very distant cousins to squirrels. There are also a couple of geckos who live in the science lab. I’m not at all related to them, but they are interesting, so they are honorary cousins even though it’s hard to get a word in and the way they talk gives my head the wibble-wobbles.

            Sometimes, one of the teachers will forget to close a window when everyone leaves School at the end of their day. (Which, by the way, is not even close to sundown, so I don’t know why they call it the end of the day. People get confused so easily!) Even if the window is open only a crack, I can get through because I am very fluffy. I am able to squeeze and wriggle my way in to visit my cousins and my honorary cousins.


Activities/Discussion Guides

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More Stuff

Steve Bjorkman has provided fun and lively illustrations for all three of the books about Twitch the squirrel. To learn more about Steve Bjorkman, visit his website here.

To learn more about 8 Class Pets + 1 Squirrel ÷ 1 Dog = Chaos, click here.

To learn more about Squirrel in the House, click here.

To see some of the things Twitch saw in his visit to the Galileo Museum and Science Center (sorry, that’s not a real place), check out these websites:

My friend (and fellow writer) MJ Auch reading Squirrel in the Museum with her grandsons

Because my friends know I like squirrels, some of them have very kindly gifted me with squirrels.

a squirrel sticker from Valerie and her grandson Oscar

squirrel with an acorn from Toni

Combining two of my interests (who else could this have been made for?!): a squirrel riding a dragon, from Robin