Get our latest staff recommendations, award news and digital catalog links right to your inbox.
The Squirrels Have Gone Nuts
Table of Contents
About The Book
The last thing Dillon Ford should have done was to throw a tennis ball at the squirrel. He didn’t mean to hit it. And he certainly didn’t mean for it to fall out of the tree. But now the squirrels are after him. They have the house surrounded. They’re on the roof, at every window, and coming down the chimney and through the mail slot. Dillon is a boy under siege and one thing is for sure…the squirrels are pretty nutty!
Thump… Thump… Thump…
“Dillon Ford!” called his mom, from the bottom of the stairs.
Thump… Thump… Thump…
“I know you can hear me! Stop bouncing that tennis ball against your wall and go outside!”
Dillon lay on his bed, head at the foot of it and feet planted on the wall. One foot on either side of his Captain Duke Ross, Galactic Hero poster. Duke Ross pointed one gloved finger at Dillon and stared right at him. I WANT YOU FOR THE MARS EXPEDITIONARY FORCE read the caption at the bottom of the poster.
Dillon tossed the tennis ball against the wall again—thump—and caught it.
“But it’s so hot outside,” he hollered back.
“Do not make me come up there!” Mom said.
“But there’s nothing to do!”
“Find something to do!”
“Something besides driving me crazy with that tennis ball!” Mom said.
Dillon groaned and threw the ball against the wall one last time.
“Fine,” he said. “I’ll go outside.”
“Thank you,” said Mom.
“But if I die of heatstroke, it won’t be my fault,” Dillon said.
“I’ll send you out with plenty of lemonade,” said Mom. “Crisis averted.”
Dillon swung his legs off the bed, pulled on his sneakers, and shuffled out of his bedroom. Maybe Mikey was home, he thought. Mikey Dillman was his best friend and lived next door. The Dillmans had gone on a family camping trip, and Dillon had been bored out of his mind all week. If the station wagon was in the driveway, that would mean they were finally home. Dillon’s tree house had a perfect view over the hedge wall that separated his house from Mikey’s.
As promised, Mom had a full water bottle of lemonade waiting for him.
“Thank you,” said Dillon, taking a big swig. He tossed the tennis ball up and caught it. “I’ll be in my base, drinking my own sweat when the lemonade runs out.”
“Oh, knock it off,” Mom said. “Before you know it, summer will be over and you’ll be back in school. You’ll wish you had these long, lazy, hot days of summer vacation.”
Dillon shrugged and, with tennis ball in hand, headed out the back door.
The tree house had been built into the thick limbs and full canopy of a mighty oak tree, right at the edge of their property. It had two floors, a small balcony, and windows with shutters you could close for secret meetings. A ladder had been built into the trunk for access (the tree house was at least ten feet high), and one long limb stretched over the hedges and into Mikey’s yard. His parents had agreed not to cut it down and, instead, had made a rope ladder so that Mikey could get up there from his own yard.
Dillon and Mikey referred to the tree house as their “base” and decided that they were members of Captain Duke Ross’s Mars Expeditionary Force. After all, the poster did say that Captain Ross wanted them for the force. They usually sat up there reading Galactic Hero comics, drinking soda, and playing board games.
But when Dillon climbed up the ladder and into the base and peered out over the hedges, he did not see the Dillmans’ RV, just their station wagon sitting in the driveway. That, and Mikey’s older brother Mark’s beat-up pizza delivery car with the PIZZA MARIO sign still stuck to the top of it.
He picked up the stack of comics and dropped them back down on the table. He’d already reread them a dozen times, and the new issue wouldn’t come out for another couple of weeks. Playing board games by yourself was no fun. He thought about going down to the creek, or maybe the park, but that meant walking (or skateboarding), and it was entirely too hot to do either.
Then he saw it.
A big gray squirrel with an even bigger bushy tail and a white patch of fur on its chin. It had something in its mouth. Something shiny. Something that looked awfully familiar. It can’t be, Dillon thought.
Dillon spun around and pulled open the base’s candy basket. All the Sour Sugar Snakes packages were empty. Every. Single. One. And the culprit was clinging to the side of a tree, with a package in its mouth!
“Hey!” Dillon shouted, rushing back out to the small balcony. “Hey, that’s my Sour Sugar Snakes, you thief! Get back here!”
The squirrel shook its tail and scampered up the side of the other tree.
“Give it back!”
Dillon threw the tennis ball as hard as he could.
He wanted to hit the tree. He wanted to scare the squirrel enough that it would drop his last pack of Sour Sugar Snakes and run away.
But he did not hit the tree.
He hit the squirrel. Directly. It fell backward, away from the tree, and landed on its back, in Dillon’s yard.
“Squirrel?” Dillon called. “Are you okay?”
The squirrel did not answer. It lay very, very still, its tail sticking straight out and the package of Sour Sugar Snakes in its mouth.
About The Illustrator
Teo Skaffa currently lives in Istanbul but is from a village in the Netherlands which you’ve probably never heard of, and for good reason. He loves music, video games, cinema, and swimming. He hates drawing in accurate perspective and room temperature watermelon (cold is fine though, delicious even). Coming from a traditional background, he now focuses on digital illustration and storytelling. Most of his inspiration comes from that short moment when you wake up and don’t quite understand what is happening yet, where he sees brief flashes of images and ideas which he turns into colorful illustrations.
- Publisher: Aladdin (September 6, 2022)
- Length: 144 pages
- ISBN13: 9781534480971
- Grades: 2 - 5
- Ages: 7 - 10
- Lexile ® 770L The Lexile reading levels have been certified by the Lexile developer, MetaMetrics®
- Fountas & Pinnell™ Q These books have been officially leveled by using the F&P Text Level Gradient™ Leveling System
Browse Related Books
Resources and Downloads
High Resolution Images
- Book Cover Image (jpg): The Squirrels Have Gone Nuts Trade Paperback 9781534480971
More books from this illustrator: Teo Skaffa
More books in this series: Night Frights
More to Explore
Our Summer Reading Recommendations
Red-hot romances, poolside fiction, and blockbuster picks, oh my! Start reading the hottest books of the summer.
This Month's New Releases
From heart-pounding thrillers to poignant memoirs and everything in between, check out what's new this month.