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Awards & Honors


Winner of the 2013-2014 Beverly Cleary Children's Choice Award



"The action is predictably frenetic, but the changes in voice from chapter to chapter provide a refreshing and humorous diversion from most chapter-book fare. Each animal has a distinctive style of speech, which helps the reader keep everyone clear. Galileo and Newton, the two geckos, with their scripted dialogue, and the school of fish, chanting together, "We are in a school. We are in a school in a school," are particularly effective. Occasional pen-and-ink spot illustrations add energy to an already high-octaine story."





(the schoolyard squirrel)


Being a squirrel is the best thing in the world.

The next best thing in the world is living where I live--which is near School. School is where humans send their young to learn things.

I don't know why.

Squirrel mothers teach their own young. These are things my squirrel mother taught me:

- how to climb

- how to land when I jump or fall

- how to find food

- how to bury food

- how to find food after I've buried it

- how to look cute enough that humans will give me food, so I don't have to find it, bury it, or find it again

- how to get along with animals that don't eat squirrels (Not eating squirrels is something I admire in those I meet.)

- how to get away from animals that DO eat squirrels

These are all valuable lessons for a squirrel.

I'm not sure why humans can't teach their own young.

A few of the children are all right at climbing, but most aren't good at finding food, and they're hopeless at burying food.

8 Class Pets + 1 Squirrel ÷1 Dog = Chaos

Illustrated by Steve Björkman

Ages: 4-8

Publisher: Holiday House

Book Description:

While trying to escape from a hungry owl, Twitch, the school yard squirrel, has roused the principal's dog and got chased into the school. Now he's locked in for a dangerous and disastrous night. Can Green Eggs and Hamster, Sweetie the library rat, and the other school pets save Twitch from the crazed dog, Cuddles?


Where do you GET those ideas?


One thing that always makes me smile is seeing friendships develop between animals, especially animals that you don't normally expect to get along with each other. If you type "animals getting along" or "unlikely animal friends" into your search engine, you'll be rewarded with dozens of pictures and videos that will surprise you and make you go "Awww!"


For example, here is Lucy, our daughter's cat, with Boo, one of Beth's pet rats.

Our family has had a variety of pets, including dog, hamster, rabbit, rat, tetras, and turtle. (And cats. The cats didn't make it into this story.) And we've certainly seen A LOT of squirrels in our yard. Just as with people, animals have distinct personalities.

So that's it: I just wanted to write about animals cooperating for a common goal.

(By the way, I like to think that--eventually (OK, OK, probably not really soon)--Cuddles will warm up to Twitch.)

tn_Lucy and Boo_edited.jpg

Download Teachers Guide

More squirrely fun:

Fun Stuff

Click here for a video about a man, a dog, a cat, and a rat.

Did you know?  January 21 is National Squirrel Appreciation Day.

Check out the "Get Your Revenge by Making Them Work for It" video, which shows a squirrel going through an obstacle course.

Here are a few photos of some of the animals mentioned in the story.

More Stuff

I am gratified that this book continues to be chosen by schools and school districts for school-wide read-alouds that often have everyone getting very involved.


(Pictures from Estelline Elementary, in Estelline, SD)

Speaking of my daughter, she made a picture frame for 8 Class Pets featuring charms representing the story. 

Visit Beth's Shop
Sparkly Something on 

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