Fast-paced, fantasy adventure for children, grades 1-4. A chapter book that can be read to or by children who love adventure stories featuring talking animals.
Thomas Lee Publishing
The story of Swish, a prideful and adventuresome squirrel of the South who steps up to provide for his family when his father is injured. Swish has a very special talent and doesn't believe that normal squirrel rules apply to him. But Swish soon learns that his boastful nature is no match for the mighty predator hawk, Raptor. Swish and the Raptor brings humor and life lessons together in this fast-paced tale for children of all ages.
It is nearly black out. The skies are dark with a bruised, purple horizon. From a distance it looks as though the center of the earth has pushed to the surface and set the forest ablaze. Hot flames dangerously close to destroying living trees, brush, vegetation and animal life loom in the center of the woods. But travel in closer. Move along the curving trail that is guarded by century-old trees with limbs that can reach out and take you. Then you will soon come upon a clearing. There you will witness a strange scene, a private ceremony. But it is a ritual that is tradition to one group of natives, the Gray Squirrels.
In reality, it isn’t a forest at all. It is a large, sprawling greenbelt; a park in the heart of Augusta, Georgia. As usual, Swish is at it again—telling tall tales around a small campfire with four of his best buddies. As they sit there roasting chestnuts on a stick, Swish tells of his perilous adventure; taking full advantage of his perfect southern drawl…
“There I was, up to my neck in chestnuts trying to get home b’fore dark to feed my hungry, sufferin’ family. When out of nowhere jumps the biggest, most ferocious bobcat I ever saw. I never saw claws like that in all my days! He moves in on me and threatens to tear me apart, limb from limb, if’n I don’t give up the nuts. I thinks to myself, what bobcat eats chestnuts anyhow? So, I says to the cat, “if you want these nuts, you’re gonna have to wrench them from my cold, dead paws.’” Swish balls his paws up tightly. Then raising his fists to the night sky, he shakes them defiantly for dramatic effect.
Hickory, a scrawny, little squirrel wearing thick glasses asks, “Whatdidyado?”
Swish says, “The big cat starts at me. I backs away slow-like. Then I throws the nuts hard, square at his over-sized head. I saw those nuts bounce off his head like them hockey pucks that humans play the stick game with. Next thing I know, he’s laid out cold like a possum playing dead.”
“Then what?” asks Hickory, expectantly.
“I gather up my nuts like nothin’ happened and went on home to feed my family.”
“Really, now?” asks Edward. Edward, who claims to be a direct descendant of the Royal Squirrels of Chess Borough Court of England, doesn’t believe a word. “Do you really expect us to believe this rubbish?”
“I believe him, every word,” says Penny, the only she-squirrel on the squad. “Swish is the bravest squirrel in all of Squirreltown, Georgia. He gathers more nuts than any other squirrel in these parts. You of all squirrels should know that! Remember last year when your dear mama ran out of food in the dead of winter and Swish and his family gave y’all some of their stores—enough to get you by?”
“Yes, of course I remember. And our family will be forever grateful. But some of these stories, really!” says Edward, exasperated.
“Anyways, I ain’t a claimin’ to be no super-squirrel, like that squirrel that hangs around with the moose. You know the one? We seen him on the funny box in the human’s house. But everybody in these parts knows I can fly just like a natural bird. According to my daddy, my great-great granddaddy, Wilbert was one of the famous Southern Flying Squirrels of Arkansas. Him and my great-great grandma, Evalene traveled for years with one of them human circuses, thrilling folks with their electrifying flyin’ acts.”
“If that's so, when should we expect to see you fly?” asks Edward with a smirk on his face, certain that he has finally gotten the best of Swish.
“In due time—these things tend to skip generations, as you well know,” answers Swish.
Edward purses his lips, watching Swish with dubious eyes.
“It’s the truth!” Swish snaps back, “It’s in the genes.” Swish sighs heavily. Dropping his shoulders, he is clearly dismayed by Edward’s disbelief. “Well, it’s gettin' late anyways. I gotta go home. There’s lots of work to be done before late autumn and winter set in.”
The Squirrel Squad put out the campfire using water from the nearby creek then covers the site with dirt. Standing in a circle, they lay paw upon paw and chant their squad anthem:
Squirrel Squad mighty and true,
Fearless, able, through and through.
One in trouble, come we all,
Standing strong, mountain tall.
Be it cat, be it owl, be it raptor, any fowl.
We stand ready to defend,
Home and family till the end.