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8 Class Pets + 1 Squirrel ÷1 Dog = Chaos
Ages: 6 - 10
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?


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Where do you GET those ideas?
Activities/Discussion Guide
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"The action is predictably frenetic, but the changes in voice from chapter to chapter provie 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." -- Kirkus


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

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.)





(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.


Activities/Discussion Guides

Click here for printer-ready Activities/Discussion Guide

More Stuff

Click here for a brief Q & A regarding 8 Class Pets.

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

Steve Bjorkman has provided fun and lively illustrations for 8 Class Pets, and for Squirrel in the House, and for Squirrel in the Museum



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

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

Visit Steve's website by clicking here.

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 (I hope to have more soon) of some of the animals mentioned in the story.

squirrel, as with Twitch (school yard squirrel)

dog (Beth and Josh's Oliver), as with Cuddles (the principal's dog)

hamster (Beth's Nelly), as with Green Eggs and Hamster (first-grade hamster)

rabbit (Beth's Captain Jack Rabbit), as with Miss Lucy Cottontail (second-grade rabbit)

rat (Beth's Bullwinkle), as with Sweetie (library rat)

red macaw (taken at Disney's Animal Kingdom), sort of as Lenore (fourth grade parrot), except that Lenore is blue and gold

green macaw (taken at Disney's Animal Kingdom), sort of as Lenore (fourth grade parrot), except that Lenore is STILL blue and gold

gecko (taken at Seneca Park Zoo), as in Galileo and Newton (science lab geckos)

turtle (taken at Seneca Park Zoo), as in Nancy (art room turtle)

Nothing to do with much of anything, except why you should always be careful if accepting a dinner invitation from Beth (Beth with Leo)

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






Beth has a shop on Etsy called "Sparkly Something"

 where she sells customized items, including book-specific bookmarks.



The children of Oregon, Washington, and Montana named 8 Class Pets the winner of the Beverly Cleary Children's Choice Award.