BOOKS

The Complete Adventures of SHELBY F SQUIRREL and Friends (2015)

AA Complete NEW FRONT COVER-  300 RES. 5.75 X 8.75

24 lively adventures suitable for reading to children age 3 – 7, and independent reading by children age 7 – 10.  Here’s a little bit of the first story:

SHELBYS FLYING LESSON

Shelby F. Squirrel was so excited he was quivering all over! His mother had just told him that he was old enough now to go down to the ground with the rest of the family to hunt for fallen nuts. He and his twin sister, Darby, were not babies any more!

“But,” his mother had sternly added, You must never go down to the ground alone! We always go together.

The other thing their mother had told them was what the initial F stood for. He and Darby had always wanted to know, but were told that they would find out when they were older.

She had patiently explained, You know that other squirrels look a lot like us, and behave like us most of the time. Our tails are shorter and our fur is thicker, but the most important thing to know is what our middle initial stands for. It is the same for every member in our whole family. She paused for a moment and taking a big breath, announced, Shelby Flying Squirrel and Darby Flying Squirrel are your full and proper names, and in a few days you will have your first flying lesson!

Oh, no! cried Shelby. I‘ll never be able to do that, I just know it! and before either of them could stop him he scrambled down the tree and across the grass.

Without looking back, he just ran as fast as he could and soon he was on the edge of the parking lot behind a tall building that seemed to stretch all the way to the sky. As he glanced around he was startled to see a small black and white dog come trotting toward him. A low growl came from away down its throat and it suddenly dashed right toward Shelby.

Shelbys little feet skidded on the pavement as he took off, but he skittered toward the door that someone had just come through and darted inside before he even realized what he was doing.

He was in a small room with no way out! There were two shopping carts in the corner and a closed door on each side wall. Straight in front of him was another different looking door. He was in a complete panic, eyes popping, chest heaving, when the different looking door slid open sideways! And then another door slid open just a little bit in front of that!

In a shot he was through them both, and went sliding across a beautiful room with soft furniture, carpets, and potted plants. He sat back on his haunches to take it all in, his head turning in all directions.

The Great FOREST CAPER (2016)

FINAL 2

An 11 chapter adventure for children age 8 – 11.  Shelby isn’t a little kid any more and the forest is in trouble!

The following is a short excerpt from Chapter 1:

1 MYSTERY IN THE FOREST

Shelby and Petra F. Squirrel were basking in the warmth of a beautiful spring afternoon, listening to Rosie Robin and her extended family send melodious notes echoing through the treetops.

Sunshine filtered through the fresh green leaves creating deep shadows against dancing rays of gold. Tiny motes floated in the bright columns, and butterflies painted flashes of orange and yellow as they flitted about. Shelby and Petra felt more like napping than gathering food. They would have to work a little harder to make up later, when everyone joined in the night hunt.

Shelby’s sister, Darby, and Peter F. Squirrel, her new friend, had left earlier in the day, which was their habit lately. It would be nightfall before they would likely return. The mother flying squirrels were happily soaking up the sun too, high in the branches of the gentle pine where they were snacking on cones, digging out their sweet seeds, and finding clusters of soft new needles to line their nests.

Petra jumped suddenly, pricking up her ears. “What’s that noise?” she asked, peering around and then staring at Shelby with a spark of fear in her eyes.

“I don’t hear anything!” he responded, trying to sound calm. He had seen a truck parked nearby a few times, and had an uncomfortable feeling about what it was doing there, but then he was naturally distrustful of new sounds and anything that might invade their treetop paradise.

“Let’s go look!” shouted Petra, taking off into space with a flying leap. Shelby heaved a patient sigh and followed as she led him to the forest edge. Sure enough there was the small brown van, the same one that had been hanging around for a week or two.

They decided to follow the two men that climbed out and loaded up with notebooks and small cases, some on straps which were slung over their shoulders. One glanced upward, as though he sensed them above him, and quickly brought a camera up, snapping several shots.

“Couple of flying squirrels up there, Tony,” he said, jerking his chin up.

“Yeah, hope we see lots of wildlife. Let’s take a walk. You have your recorders all set up?”

“Yup, I’ll pick up every possible sound from birdsong to mice running through dried leaves, you’ll see!”

“Glad you’re the one deciphering it later. I’ll take care of the visual. Still shots on the way in and movie on the way back. Better if we split up, so I can record notes for myself. You wouldn’t want my jabbering on your nature tapes!”

With a hearty chuckle he marched off toward the west boundary of the forest.

Shelby whispered to Petra, “Okay, you go with that one, and I’ll follow the other guy. We better tell the Wise Old Owl about this tonight.”

 Where is Virginia? (2017)

 COVER-1 Aug 22

For readers aged 9-12, a lot is happening in this new SHELBY story! A little white flying squirrel disappears, a wonderful dog named Nikita appears in the forest, and Shelby becomes a father. Many positive life lessons and philosophies are subtly woven into this book.

1 A CALL FOR HELP

Shelby Flying Squirrel stirred, opened his eyes, squinted, and decided to close them again. The sun was already up but he lolled a little longer, enjoying the lazy feel of his warm bed. It was the middle of March, trees were still bare and the snow was melting fast. Spring was in the air; warm weather was just around the corner.

Shelby hadn’t outgrown his love of early mornings and being active in the daytime, but he had to admit it was rather nice to sleep longer once in a while. He stretched lazily, and could easily have turned over and fallen asleep again.

Being a nocturnal animal meant he was more comfortable when it was dark, but since babyhood his curiosity and boundless energy had created a double life for him. And that influence had spread to his whole family and even to his other nocturnal friends, Molly and Polly Raccoon.

He rubbed his eyes and blinked a few times. And finally lifted his head to look around.

Petra, his mate, was already up, busy tidying the corner where winter supplies were stashed. Shelby smiled to himself. Petra loved the daylight and it was Shelby who had taught her to enjoy it. Just the sight of her touched his heart as he watched for a few moments without saying anything.

“How are you?” Shelby asked finally and Petra turned to peek at him. He was very protective of her, especially lately, because she had told him there would soon be babies in their little home.

“I’m fine, fit as a fiddle!” she answered with a bright smile, and went back to her task. Shelby would have liked to help, but she preferred to do the work herself, because she knew he would soon be hunting for both of them.

Petra felt like the luckiest mother-to-be in the whole world. Flying squirrel fathers traditionally left before babies were born, but Shelby was different and wanted to be there for Petra and their young ones, and he was really looking forward to being a parent. He told her he believed it was about time someone changed things. Deserting her was out of the question. He said he watched his own mother do everything with no help and wondered where his father was and why. Shelby F. Squirrel was a special mate, and no question about it!

* * *

“Quick! Somebody has called for help!” cried Rosie Robin. She arrived, breathless, at the nest hole and perched looking in at Shelby and Petra. Suddenly Shelby was wide awake.

“Who? Where?” Petra wanted to know.

Shelby just said, “Let’s go!”

Rosie led the way. Her mate, Rusty, and their best friend, Merry Robin, were close behind, and winging in from their left were two owls. Shelby nodded to Howard and Ollie, the Wise Old Owl’s eldest nephews, with a friendly smile. On Howard’s back was Marvin F. Mouse, waving bravely while he hung on with only one hand. He loved flying on Shelby’s back, but if an owl was handy he never said no.

Shelby was impressed that so many of his friends were already gathering to help someone in trouble. The long fight to save their forest last summer had built a strong community spirit between them and the neighbouring farm animals. It was something everyone realized was worth keeping as part of everyday life.

Howard angled in beside Shelby as he sailed on a long glide, and Marvin, clinging to his back, shouted, “A little flying squirrel is lost!”

That was all Shelby found out until Rosie Robin suddenly swooped downward and they all followed her descent. Shelby could see that Molly and Polly Raccoon were sitting nearby and the skunks were there under a tree just a short distance away.

* * *

They had arrived at the far northern edge of the forest, which was beside an expansive rolling field, still stubbled with remnants of last year’s corn. Here they found a family of three flying squirrels cowering together near the opening to their nest in a beech tree.

It was clear they were terribly upset. Their eyes were full of tears and the mother was visibly shaking. Her mate, a strong fellow, was supporting her, while their young son clung to his mother and stared at the newcomers with a trace of fear in his eyes.

“I’m Red,” said the largest one, “and this is my mate, Sal. Our daughter is lost! We can’t find her anywhere!” Red was large for a flying squirrel and his thick fur shone with tips of russet. He was a fine specimen, but his face was pinched with worry.

“She’s gone, we don’t know what happened!” said Sal, who was close to a full-blown panic attack. She was smaller, with typical gray predominating her thick fur. Her eyes darted back and forth, then she repeated, “She’s lost! Our beautiful little Virginia is lost! Oh, what are we going to do?”

Petra moved close to Sal to try and comfort her, and the two male squirrels went a short distance away to talk. Rosie Robin stayed with Petra and Sal, making soft chirpy sounds as she shook her head sadly. Edward sniffled quietly and leaned against his mother.

Marvin F. Mouse and Rusty Robin joined Red and Shelby. The two owls, Howard and Ollie, hung back, looking very uncomfortable with such an emotional situation. They sat together and waited, looking serious, which was their usual facial expression.

* * *

Just out of hearing range of the ladies, Shelby said, “Red, when did you come to the Flying Squirrel Sanctuary?”

“Not long ago,” Red replied. “We’ve only been here for two days, barely settling in and this happens!”

“Tell me more,” urged Shelby. The others nodded and smiled to encourage Red.

“Our two children are almost a year old. Edward has fur like mine but Virginia’s is white! A lot of the animals where we had been living weren’t nice to her. They laughed at her and and played mean tricks on her. She used to cry herself to sleep every night! Even Edward couldn’t cheer her up.”

“White fur! She must be very beautiful!” said Marvin.

“She really is, yes! She was so happy here without the bullies around. But yesterday she just disappeared!”

Sal came to join them, needing to be close to Red. Edward stuck to her like glue. “We’re so worried and we don’t know where to begin!” Sal wailed, now sobbing openly. Petra and Rosie Robin had not managed to calm her at all. They stayed where they were looking at each other with grim expressions, talking softly, trying to figure out some way to help. But they were too upset to think clearly.

Red told them they had last seen Virginia around noon the day before. She and Edward had been playing hide-and-seek in the trees, and when he couldn’t find her, he had eventually given up and come home, thinking she would soon follow.

But Virginia had never returned. They had searched and called her name until they were near exhaustion. Even though they were virtually strangers in the Flying Squirrel Sanctuary, they decided they must ask for help early this morning. The first contact with anyone had been when Merry Robin flew by their tree on her way to find worms in the farmer’s field. She had immediately changed course and hurried straight to Rosie’s nest.

* * *

Petra and Rosie came to join the group. “We have a wonderful network of friends here. With everyone helping I’m sure we can find her!” Petra said to the distressed parents. She hoped they could make that come true, but deep down she wasn’t sure how they would do it.

Red and Sal were grateful to have the support of these new friends. Sal was weeping again, maybe from a sense of relief mixed with her worry. Shelby decided to change the subject momentarily.

“Red, I must say I’m surprised to see you are with your family, rather than leaving Sal alone to raise your children. What made you decide to stay?”

“I just needed to,” said Red, his chest expanding with a touch of pride. “Especially with our Virginia being so different, I wanted to be a father to her and Edward, and I’ve never liked the tradition of leaving all the work for one parent. My own mother had a hard time raising me and my sister alone.”

“I feel the same way!” said Shelby, raising his paw for a high five, acknowledging what they knew was the beginning of a special friendship.

Shelby said he would tell all the forest and farm friends. Everybody would know about the missing white flying squirrel long before this day was over.

They left the sad little family, and headed back through the forest. All thoughts and other plans were forgotten. Finding Virginia was the only thing on anyone’s mind. A sense of panic hit Shelby as he followed Petra. Rosie fluttered away to tend to her nest building, but promised to stop and tell as many robins as possible along the way. They would pass it along to everyone they met.

Shelby went straight to the Wise Old Owl, who promised to send his nephews and other family members to the farm where Charlie, the old horse, lived along with other wonderful friends who would all want to help in any way they could.

* * *

Charlie promised to get word to his cousins, Goldie and Jacko. They lived two farms over, and would make sure all their friends were on the lookout, even though it was unlikely that Virginia was that far away.

Several searches were started immediately, robins and owls flying high and low to try and spot a small white animal. With the bare trees, they felt confident someone would see her very soon. Howard Owl commented that finding her in the summer with all the leaves would be much more difficult. That fact further improved the positive mood that already prevailed. Red, Sal, and Edward insisted on helping. It would be easier for them to be involved, rather than waiting for news. Everyone was included in a joint effort to find Virginia.

Marvin F. Mouse and his large family teamed up with the skunks and scoured the forest floor, looking into burrows, under leaves, behind fallen branches, and in the small ponds; the owls and robins flew in groups, circling patiently.

Shelby and Petra soared from tree to tree, calling Virginia’s name. Shelby’s sister, Darby, and her mate, Peter, who was Petra’s brother, joined in too.

* * *

By early afternoon Virginia had not been found. Petra tried to console Red and Sal, but couldn’t find the right words. Edward had grown quiet again and his eyes were barely focusing. Sal hugged him to her and took him to their nest where she hoped he would fall asleep. She would stay with him, even though she wanted to help the others look for her little girl.

They all took a short break, and then resumed searching for any sign of a white blur that might be Virginia. The owls flew beyond the forest edge, swooping down to examine the fields and small bushes. The mice and skunks retraced their paths, criss-crossing every inch of the forest.

The flying squirrels and raccoons carefully checked knotholes, notches in tree trunks, and forks in the branches where a tiny animal might take shelter, curl up and fall asleep.

But there was no sign of a little white flying squirrel, and nobody heard any cries for help.

 

 

 

 

 

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