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The Girl in the Tree

Book #1 of Squirlish



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About The Book

A girl raised by squirrels in Central Park tries to make human friends in this laugh-out-loud, highly illustrated first book in a new chapter book series perfect for fans of Sophie Mouse and Critter Club!

Cordelia is a girl who lives in a tree in Central Park. Found as a baby and raised by an adoring squirrel named Shakespeare, Cordelia acts just like any other young squirrel, leaping across treetops, chasing her squirrel friends, and sleeping in her treehouse. Still, she wonders what it would be like to have a human friend, and when she stumbles into a gymnastics class, it seems like she might have her chance.

Living in a tree might have made Cordelia an exceptional gymnast, but people skills are a whole other matter. Even if Cordelia can’t fully fit in with the other kids, can she at least make one friend? Cordelia starts her journey to be—not exactly a girl, but more than a squirrel—squirlish!


Chapter 1: The Girl in the Tree

1 The Girl in the Tree
Cordelia was a girl who lived in a tall elm tree in Central Park. No one knew where she came from. A squirrel named Shakespeare found her one evening under a shrub, when she was just a wee baby. Shakespeare didn’t like the looks of this small human creature with its drippy nose and big staring eyes. He certainly had no intention of taking care of it. He enjoyed his alone time too much. Some squirrels are like that.

Still, thought Shakespeare, there is a coyote roaming around the park. A coyote might eat a human baby. Coyotes have no shame.

Shakespeare hurried over to his neighbor, Miss Gertrude, an elderly squirrel who lived in the larch tree next door. Miss Gertrude was a very clever squirrel. When she saw the baby under the shrub, she knew exactly what to do.

She found three strong pigeons. The pigeons each took a beakful of Cordelia’s onesie and flew her straight up to an old squirrel’s nest in Shakespeare’s tree. The nest was big and sturdy enough for a small human baby. Cordelia curled up very comfortably and fell straight to sleep.

“But I don’t want a baby,” Shakespeare complained to Miss Gertrude. “Their noses run and their crying makes my ears feel all buzzily.”

Shakespeare liked to make up new words, like “buzzily” and “giggle-wig” and “minglebum.”

“You found her for a reason, Shakespeare, even if you don’t know what that reason is yet,” declared Miss Gertrude. Then she turned and headed home to her larch tree, calling back, “Good night! I’ll bring you some mashed acorns for her in the morning!”

Shakespeare climbed up his elm tree. He sat beside the nest and looked down at the little human creature. In her sleep, Cordelia reached out and held his tail, the way she might have held the hand of someone she trusted very much.

Shakespeare felt a little funny in his chest then. He thought it might have been because of a bad walnut that he’d eaten. But later, much later, he realized why he had felt funny. It was because at that moment he knew Cordelia belonged to him, and he belonged to Cordelia… and that was simply that.

About The Author

Photo courtesy of the author

Ellen Potter is the author of more than twenty award-winning novels for children and young adults, including theSquirlish series, the Hither & Nigh series, Olivia Kidney, Slob, the Big Foot and Little Foot series, the Piper Green and the Fairy Tree series, The Humming RoomPish Posh, and The Kneebone Boy. Several of her books have been chosen by the New York Public Library for their Best 100 Books for Children list and have appeared on numerous state reading lists. Her nonfiction writing book, Spilling Ink, A Young Writer’s Handbook, coauthored with Anne Mazer, was also chosen by the New York Public Library as a Best 100 Books for Children. Ellen lives in upstate New York with her family. For more information about Ellen and her books, visit

Product Details

  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (June 13, 2023)
  • Length: 112 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781665926744
  • Grades: 1 - 4
  • Ages: 6 - 9
  • Fountas & Pinnell™ M These books have been officially leveled by using the F&P Text Level Gradient™ Leveling System

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Raves and Reviews

"Cordelia is inquisitive, confused, lovable, and utterly unique. The fantasy elements of her world are imaginative and charming....Suspend all disbelief and enjoy being a part of this world."

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More books from this author: Ellen Potter