"This humorous story is told cheerfully from the squirrel's extremely filtered perspective in present tense, with a surprisingly elevated language. (After all, he is “highly educated.”) Readers do not have to have read 8 Class Pets + 1 Squirrel ÷ 1 Dog = Chaos (2011) to enjoy this squirrel's-eye view of the world and the slapstick humor. Short chapters illustrated with pen-and-ink line drawings add to the appeal. Delightfully nutty chapter-book fare."
I am so appreciative that Steve Bjorkman gave me the original artwork for the cover of Squirrel in the House--proof that he is kind, as well as talented!
Squirrel in the House
Illustrated by Steve Björkman
Ages: 6-10 years
Publisher: Holiday House
Twitch the squirrel mistakes the taunts of Cuddles the dog as an invitation to visit the People house, where a houseful of human guests are gathered.
Where do you GET those ideas?
Authors do not get to choose who's going to illustrate their books. That's a decision made by the publishing house. In the case of 8 Class Pets + 1 Squirrel ÷ 1 Dog = Chaos, I was very lucky that the chosen illustrator was Steve Bjorkman. I LOVED what he did for my book, showing the animals' personalities, adding to the excitement, creating--well, chaos--all in a way that escalated the fun.
I didn't know Steve, but I found his e-mail address and sent him a fan letter, thanking him for bringing my characters to life with such energy. He wrote back a very nice letter saying he had especially enjoyed drawing Twitch the squirrel, and that he'd welcome the opportunity to play with Twitch some more. He even mentioned it might be fun to have Twitch in someone's home.
This was, I thought, an inspired suggestion.
Which is why Squirrel in the House is dedicated to Steve Bjorkman.
TWITCH, THE SCHOOL-YARD SQUIRREL
The dog who lives next door to the yard where I live tells me that people call dogs "man's best friend."
Well, actually, the dog doesn't so much tell me this as he yells it. Usually while he's chasing me. Often the dog gets so angry when he sees me that he tries to catch me. I don't know why he gets angry. I guess some dogs are just highly excitable that way. But when he runs after me, he can only go so far. Then his leash stops him.
I try to point things out to the dog, purely for educational purposes. I live in the school yard, so I am a very well-educated squirrel. I say, "Man's best friend, huh? You're tied to a tree. You did notice that, didn't you? My friends don't tie me to trees."
Time and again the dog gets so angry about the life lesson I've tried to give that he forgets about his leash. He lunges, he runs out of leash, he bounces back.
Very calmly, not to tease him but only to explain the way things are, I say to the dog, "I think it's squirrels who are man's best friend. That's why the man who lives here ties you up--so you can't bother me."
The dog is not very smart. He does not appreciate my trying to educate him. Sometimes the dog gets so angry he forgets words. He barks the bark that is just noise: "Bark! Bark! Bark!"
I never forget words, and I never bark.
Still, the man who is not the dog's best friend is not very smart either. He doesn't realize that he doesn't have to tie up the dog to keep him from catching me. I can always climb a tree to get out of the dog's reach.
From the tree, I can drop walnuts onto the dog's head.
Purely for educational purposes, of course.