A typical conversation between a squirrel & a tree, a blog post by James Mihaley

Monday, April 22nd, 2013 / 1 Comment


In the last twenty years many squirrels have been forced to become psychiatrists.  Squirrels would prefer not to do this but with the growing number of depressed trees in America, squirrels have no choice.

This is a typical conversation between a tree and a squirrel:

“Why are you so depressed?” asked the squirrel.

“Do you see that boy down there?” replied the tree.  “He never looks at me.  People used to look at me.  They used to admire how I shimmered in the sunlight and danced in the wind.  No one looks at me anymore.  Forget about building a tree fort.  I know that would be asking way too much to have that kid build a fort in one my branches.  My grandfather had four forts.  Four forts!  I don’t have a single fort.  It’s embarrassing.”

“Calm down, tree,” said the squirrel.

“How can I calm down?  Look at that girl walking by.  She doesn’t even see me.  She’s too busy downloading a new app.”

“What’s an app?” asked the squirrel excitedly.  “Can you eat it?”

“Eat it?”

“Yeah.  Does it taste like an acorn?  Maybe I can collect a bunch of apps and store them up for winter.  A big juicy app on a snowy day.  Doesn’t that sound delicious?”

“Squirrel, you don’t eat apps.  You download them.”

“What a bummer,” said the squirrel.

“Now we’re both depressed,” said the tree.

335087-Ground-Squirrel-Walton-760x1061This is a typical conversation between a squirrel and a tree.  Fortunately, the main character in my novel is a kid who likes to look at trees.  He also likes to climb them.  His name is Giles.  He thinks of himself as a professional tree climber.  My book is called You Can’t Have My Planet But Take My Brother, Please.  (If you have a sister but not a brother, I give you permission to call it You Can’t Have My Planet But Take My Sister, Please.)

In the book it turns out we humans are merely renting Earth from aliens.  Because we’re such lousy tenants, we’re about to get evicted.  What makes us bad tenants?  Well, we pollute the oceans, litter the streets, don’t recycle, and spew endless amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

But there are people out there, people like you, who care deeply about our precious world.

Giles is one of those people.  Since he is so connected to nature, Giles is asked to embark on a quest to save humanity and prove to creatures in distant galaxies that we actually care about our planet.  In my book there are bad aliens and good aliens.  The good aliens give Giles a robot who can turn paper back into trees.  The robot’s name is Big Daddy.

Along with being a lover of natural beauty, Giles is also a poet.  In the book he is given a spaceship that runs on rhyming.

This is a poem Giles wrote for Earth Day called ‘Overachiever’.


                              Instead of doing my homework, I

stared out the window at a hummingbird.

In a weird sort of way,

it was a very productive day.

Then I missed soccer practice

cus we got stuck in traffic.

Mountain goats were crossing the street.

In a weird sort of way,

it was a very productive day.

Now I’m going to tell you a secret.  When you look at a tree or a flower or a bird, at anything in nature, you’re giving it something essential, without which it couldn’t survive.  Trees need to be looked at and admired just as much as they require water and sunlight.  There’s a vital nutrient in your vision that gets absorbed directly into the tree trunk.  Your eyes are very important.

Thanks to you, tree depression will gradually disappear.  Squirrels will thank you.  If you ever find an acorn under your pillow, you can be certain it came from a squirrel who was trying to express his gratitude.

In your backyard this will be a typical conversation between a tree and a squirrel.

“How’s it going, tree?” asked the squirrel.

“Couldn’t be better,” said the tree.  “How are you, squirrel?”

“I’m doing great.”

“I’m surprised,” said the tree.  “Those crows just stole all your acorns.”

“Get back here, you stupid crows!” screamed the squirrel.

Don’t worry about the squirrel.  He will find more acorns.  And don’t worry about the future of the planet.  With people like you out there, Mother Nature is in good hands.  So let’s go celebrate Earth Day.  Find a tree and look at it!

James Mihaley has milked cows. He drove 1,000 miles in one day for a rock concert. Once he almost got eaten by a shark. He lives in L.A., where he avoids the paparazzi and feeds the pigeons. You Can’t Have My Planet But Take My Brother, Please is his first novel.

Categories: Middle Grade
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One Response to “A typical conversation between a squirrel & a tree, a blog post by James Mihaley”

  1. Maranna says:

    Oh dear, I have already fallen in love with this book and I know one little boy who will feel as I do. Could be a terrific book for a unit of work in schools.

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