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The Only Squirrel in Hawaii
by Julian X  /  scripts  /  11 Oct 2007

Tagline:  “Moving doesn’t have to be scary – even for a little squirrel.”

Description:  “When Squirrelly accidentally winds up on a flight to Hawaii, he must adjust to his new environment – with its different nuts, weather, animals, and terrain.  But as he does, he comes to realize that he is the only squirrel in Hawaii.”

 

The image of Squirrely with a macadamia nut over a map of Hawaii, with the nut in place as if it were another island, should preface the book as an opening image.

 

The numbers below indicate page numbers.  The story is broken into a number of sequences.

 

In our opening sequence, Squirrely, frolicking with other squirrels, follows a nut fall into a packed bag sitting open on a driveway – which promptly gets closed, trapping him inside.

  1. A squirrel, frolicking with other brown squirrels among the oak trees beside a suburban house.  Not emphasized in the image is the car in the driveway, trunk open, with packed bags beside the car.  One long tree branch hangs far over the driveway.  Caption:  “Squirrely started as a squirrel just like the other squirrels.  They liked to chase each other, eat nuts, and save some acorns for the long winter.”
  2. Along the right edge of the page we have a vertical strip of panels showing a nut falling into one of the slightly open bags:  first on the branch, then falling, then landing in the bag.  (The vertical strip is reminiscent of celluloid, a little motion picture as a sidebar, running down the page.)  In the main image, we see Squirrely, presently holding and munching on a nut, looking very intently as he takes notice this falling nut.  Caption:  “But then Squirrely saw a particularly tasty acorn fall from a tree, and he couldn’t resist.”
  3. A few shots of Squirrely approaching the bag, cutely climbing up it, and disappearing into it.  The “camera” (so to write) should be far enough away to establish the scene of the car and the driveway, and should stay still – in contrast to the impressionistic shot on the next page.  Caption:  “It had fallen into a bag packed with clothes, and Squirrely dove right in.”
  4. Here we see Squirrely rooting around in the dark bag filled with clothes.  The camera is skewed, emphasizing the chaos of his experience in the bag, and the whole scene is rather dark, with the clothes only identifiable as clothing – as opposed to simply being overlapping folded fabric – by key portions such as cufflinks, collars, buttons, etc.  But note that these are girl’s clothes.  Caption:  “The nut had disappeared deep into the bag, so Squirrely burrowed deep inside in search of it.  He felt fabric all around him, and it was dark as he rooted around, with just a little light through the opening above.  It was nothing like climbing trees.”  Below the above shot, we see a similar one in which Squirrely comes upon a stuffed bear.  Caption:  “He even found a stuffed bear in there.  He had never seen a stuffed bear before, but knew it wasn’t a nut.”
  5. Shots of a family emerging from the house.  We see their legs by the bags, tossing them in the open trunk.  They zip up the bag that Squirrely jumped into.  Caption:  “Squirrels do not know about cars or vacations or luggage.  What Squirrely did not know was that the bag belonged to a little girl about to go on vacation with her family.  And Squirrely did not know that she had forgotten to close her bag, nor that her father would close the bag for her.”
  6. A shot of a confused Squirrely in the darkened bag, now with no light.  Caption:  “So Squirrely did not know why it was suddenly so dark, nor why he felt himself moving and crashing around.  He just knew that he couldn’t find his way out.”

This is the sequence in which Squirrely is transported to Hawaii while stuck in the bag.

  1. A shot of the car on a highway, moving through traffic.  The shot emphasizes the trunk.  Caption:  “For a long time, everything was pretty still as the family drove to the airport.  Squirrely felt trapped and scared.”
  2. Then we have a shot of the family pulling the bag from the trunk, the setting obscure.  Under it, we see the family walking with their bags towards an airport.  Caption:  “Then his little dark world turned sideways and started shaking around.”
  3. Over a few panels (perhaps four), the family checks their bags, handing the one Squirrely got into over to an employee, who puts it on a conveyor belt behind the counter.  Caption:  “It kept moving and stopping and shaking and stopping as the family waited to give their bags to the airline.  Then Squirrely’s dark world of fabric flipped on its side and moved again, more steadily this time.”
  4. A shot of the baggage being tossed onto the airplane, accompanied by a shot of Squirrely in the bag, looking like he’s screaming.  Then a large shot of the baggage in the airplane’s hold.  Caption:  “When the bag was thrown onto the airplane, Squirrely was very afraid.  Then things were pretty still for a while, and Squirrely calmed down even though he still couldn’t escape.”
  5. A nice horizontal shot of the plane taking off.  Caption:  “When the plane took off, all the bags shifted around and Squirrely was very scared.”  Below the plane taking off, we see Squirrely in the dark bag, looking nervous.  Caption:  “For a long time, he heard a loud hum.  He had never heard it before, but it was loud and frightening.  He did not know that it was the sound of the plane’s engines.”  (It may be worth pointing out that the baggage hold isn’t usually pressurized like the passenger cabin, which can cause plastic bottles to explode, although animals are in fact shipped with the baggage.  I thought about mentioning Squirrely’s difficulty breathing, but decided the pathos it lent our story wasn’t worth getting so technical.)  Under the large panel showing Squirrely in the bag, we get a nice horizontal shot of the plane landing – mirroring the top of the page.  Caption:  “When the plane landed, the bags shifted again.  Squirrely didn’t know it, but he had just become the most well-traveled squirrel in history.”
  6. A shot of the baggage being removed from the airplane, being thrown onto the baggage carts that run behind those little vehicles that ferry them around the tarmac.  Caption:  “For a while, it was still.  Then the bag was thrown onto a cart.”  A shot of the baggage being thrown from those baggage carts onto a conveyor belt that extends from the building over the tarmac.  Caption:  “It was bouncy as a man drove the cart of baggage, and then the bag was thrown onto another conveyor belt.”  A shot of the baggage dropping down from the conveyor belt onto the treadmill where people claim their baggage.  Caption:  “Then there was another big fall, and after all of this Squirrely was very disoriented.”

This is our escape sequence, ending with Squirrely shocked at his new Hawaiian surroundings.

  1. A shot of the family claiming the bag that Squirrely is in, pulling it off the treadmill.  Caption:  “Then his bag was shook again as the family pulled it off the treadmill.”  Now we get a shot of the girl pointing to the bag.  Caption:  “The girl wanted her stuffed bear from the bag, and her father said it was okay.”  Now we see a shot of the girl opening the bag, reeling back in shock as Squirrely jumps out of it – his fur all frazzled, roughed up like after a bath or a static shock.  Though it’s not important that we see it here, Squirrely has the fallen acorn in his mouth.  Caption:  “But when she opened the bag, much to her surprise, out jumped a squirrel.”
  2. Here we see Squirrely, running away from the family and surrounding people.  The girl is screaming and her parents are holding her and reacting.  Caption:  “The girl was frightened, but not nearly as much as poor Squirrely.”  Here we see a close-up of Squirrely on the slick floor, his feet slipping out from under him, and it is here that we see clearly that he has the fallen acorn.  Caption:  “Squirrely slid all over the slick airport floor.”  Underneath all this, we see Squirrely running out of the building.  Caption:  “He wanted to escape after being cramped up for so long, and he headed straight for the door.”
  3. The shot is of Squirrely running across the road, weaving through traffic.  Caption:  “He saw cars outside and ran right past them.  He wanted to keep running.”
  4. A shot of Squirrely racing through a residential neighborhood in a shot that shows the airport in the background.  Caption:  “He kept running and running, trying to escape the people and the scary bag and the humming.”  Underneath the large above panel, we see a couple shots of Squirrely tiring, out of breath, and then stopping, standing on his hind legs as squirrels are want to do, appraising the situation.  Caption:  “He ran until he got tired and saw no humans around.  And then he stopped.”
  5. A worm’s eye view of Squirrely looking up at the glaring sun, only slightly obscured by the palm trees.  Caption:  “Squirrely looked up at the bright sun.  The light felt different from the sun at home.  This wasn’t like home at all, and it was very confusing.  There were strange trees here, not like the trees at home.”
  6. A shot of Squirrely rummaging around some flowers, sniffing and exploring, the acorn still in his mouth.  Caption:  “The flowers looked strange and smelled strange.”  A shot of Squirrely looking at a very Hawaiian house, influenced by the Japanese style, with a mountain touched by a wave of clouds in the background.  Caption:  “The houses looked strange, and there were mountains here.”  A shot of Squirrely eating the acorn in his mouth.  Caption:  “Squirrely gulped nervously, and it was then that he realized he was still carrying the acorn he’d chased into the bag.  He ate it, and it tasted like home.”

In this sequence, Squirrely adjusts – or fails to adjust – to Hawaii.

  1. A shot of Squirrely trying ineffectively to get a hold on a coconut, trying ineffectively to bite it.  Caption:  “Squirrely decided to do what he’d always done and search for nuts.  He couldn’t find any acorns or walnuts or other nuts he knew.  He did find some gigantic nuts that were even bigger than he was, but he couldn’t get them open and couldn’t hold them in his paws to eat them.”  A shot of Squirrely lapping coconut milk from a coconut, lying split open on the ground.  “Later, he found one of these coconuts cracked open from the fall to the ground.  It had milk inside, and at first it made his stomach hurt.  But eventually he got used to it.”
  2. A shot of Squirrely holding and gnawing on the shell of a macadamia nut.  Caption:  “He found macadamia nuts too, and even they were as big as his head.  He had trouble holding them and breaking them open with his teeth, and even then the nuts inside were small and softer than the nuts he knew.”  A shot of Squirrely eating a macadamia nut.  Caption:  “But they were tasty, and he liked them.  He started hoarding them for the winter.”
  3. A single shot of Squirrely playing and jumping around in the light rain.  The shot has no borders and is not a panel, but rather is a single image on a white page with a bit of text – old school children’s book style.  Caption:  “At home when it rained, it rained hard and for a long time.  Squirrels would have to hide.  But here, it rained almost every day but only for a little while.  He liked that he didn’t have to hide anymore.”
  4. A shot of Squirrely in a tree, looking out at the beach filled with playing humans.  Caption:  “There was a lot of water here, but it was all in one place, stretching as far as Squirrely could see.  It was salty and not good to drink, but it made the air smell fresh and sweet.”  A shot of Squirrely making little tracks on the damp sand.  “The ground around this water wasn’t like ground at all.  It felt strangely good under Squirrely’s feet.”
  5. A shot of some surfers, with Squirrely doing his best to imitate – riding his tree branch.  This should look very cute – but I want to avoid anthropomorphizing Squirrely’s appearance even as he performs this anthropomorthic action.  He doesn’t look like a cartoon squirrel but like a real squirrel if one imitated surfing.  Caption:  “The humans played in this water and even rode boards on it, but little Squirrely was too scared of the water to try.”
  6. A shot of Squirrely hiding at night in a hole in a palm tree, watching the rats and cockroaches scurry about.  Caption:  “The animals were different here too.  There were a lot of rats and cockroaches, but he didn’t like them.  They came out at night, and squirrels liked the day.”  A shot of Squirrely, during the day, amidst the animals:  dogs, cats, and geckos of various sizes and types.  Squirrely looks at them all as if searching for something – as if lonely.  Caption:  “During the day and the night, there were dogs and cats and lizards called geckos.  But there were no squirrels.”

In this sequence, Squirrely – futilely hoarding nuts for a winter that will never come – accepts the fact that he is the only squirrel of Hawaii.

  1. A shot of Squirrely, isolated on a blank page.  Caption:  “Squirrely was all alone.”
  2. Here we see Squirrely tending his hoard of macadamia nuts (without the shells), hidden in his home – a hole in a palm tree.  He is cutely using his front paws to place a new macadamia nut onto the pile.  Caption:  “Squirrely had saved a lot of macadamia nuts for the winter, but started to wonder whether winter would ever come.  It seemed like it had been summer forever.  Usually, the squirrels shared their nuts with other squirrels, huddling together to keep warm.  Squirrely didn’t know if he should stop hoarding these nuts, but it just didn’t seem right not to do what he had always done.”
  3. A shot of Squirrely walking up the volcano, the terrain of which is that slick, flowing surface made by cooled lava.  Caption:  “There was even a mountain here without trees.  Squirrely had climbed it one day, wondering what was up there.  Maybe the other squirrels were hiding, he thought.  But the higher he got, the hotter he felt.  The air started to smell like fire, and he felt the urge to run away from it.  But he kept going until he reached the top.”  A shot of Squirrely peering over the top of the volcano, his from paws along the rim, balancing as he looks down.  Caption:  “It looked like a hole in a tree, only turned on its side and bigger than Squirrely could imagine.  Instead of nuts being inside, there seemed to be some sort of bubbling liquid fire.”  A shot of Squirrely walking down the volcano.  Caption:  This place is really, really weird, Squirrely thought as he walked down the mountain.”
  4. A shot of Squirrely in a palm tree, his limbs splayed and resting calmly as he looks down at some tourists passing below.  Caption:  “Eventually, Squirrely realized that he was the only squirrel of Hawaii.  He’d heard the humans call this place Hawaii while gazing out at the water or looking up at the palm trees and the mountains.  I’m the only squirrel in Hawaii, Squirrely said to himself.”
  5. A shot of Squirrely asleep, dreaming.  A thought balloon coming from his slumbering head shows him frolicking with other (brown) squirrels.  Caption:  “He told himself that he was special, that he was unique, but he missed the other squirrels.  He missed chasing them around.  He missed sharing nuts with them.  He missed playing with them and joking with them, and he knew that he would never see another squirrel again.”
  6. A shot of some humans sitting, drinking coffee idly beside a palm tree.  We see Squirrely’s bushy tail in the tree, or perhaps him jumping to a nearby palm tree.  But the humans are not looking his way.  Caption:  “No one in Hawaii knew that they shared the island with a squirrel.  Sometimes, they would see a flash of a bushy tail along the ground or in the tree, or a blur jumping from one palm tree to the next.  But they would never think it was a squirrel.”  This panel, the same size as the previous panel, shows one of the coffee-drinkers looking up at where Squirrely was – but he is now gone.  Caption:  “After all, there were no squirrels in Hawaii.”

In this sequence, Squirrely perhaps improbably but beautifully finds another squirrel in Hawaii – one that is gray in contrast with Squirrely’s brown color.

  1. A white page except for the following words:  “Squirrely’s story could have ended there, but it didn’t.”
  2. This page reverses the one earlier in which people were looking – and not noticing – Squirrelly... except that here the onlooker is Squirrelly himself instead of a human.  In the top image, Squirrelly is looking at a palm tree and seeing no one there.  In the bottom image, with the camera in the same place, we see Squirrelly looking at the same palm tree – only now we see on a branch of that tree the blur of a gray squirrel’s tail.  Caption (over the top image):  “One day, after Squirrely had been in Hawaii a long time, Squirrely heard a strange chirping.  Maybe it’s a bird, Squirrely thought, but it didn’t sound like a bird.  It sounded almost like a squirrel, but not like any squirrel Squirrely knew.”  Caption (over the bottom image):  “When Squirrely investigated, he saw the half-forgotten flash of a bushy tail, even if it looked different from the squirrels he knew.”
  3. A shot of Squirrely vertically climbing the trunk of the palm tree.  This gets its own brief page, building anticipation until we turn the page and get the pay-off.  Caption:  “He climbed the tree, his heart pounding with excitement, not knowing what to expect.”
  4. A shot of Squirrely emerging from the trunk of the tree onto a branch and seeing Gray Squirrel standing half upright, further down the branch and looking back at Squirrely in the foreground.  Caption:  “And suddenly, he made it to the branch and saw a squirrel in front of him – a strange gray squirrel.”
  5. A shot of the two squirrels beside each other on the branch, talking to one another, head-to-head.  Both have a look of curiosity on their faces, visually inspecting the other.  Caption:  “Gray Squirrel was almost as surprised to see Squirrely as Squirrely was to meet Grey Squirrel.  They talked and talked in the squirrel language, though both of them sounded strange to the other one.  They were from different places and missed different things.  Gray Squirrel had only been in Hawaii for a few days before Squirrely found him.  I was wondering if I were the only squirrel in Hawaii, Gray Squirrel said.”

This final sequence consists of a montage showing the two squirrels in activity together.  It begins with an even-numbered page, meaning that we turn the page in order to start the montage.

  1. A shot of the two at play together, running after each other in a circle pattern.  Caption:  “They played together and chased each other.”  A shot of Squirrelly opening a macadamia nut in front of a curious and learning Gray Squirrel.  Caption:  “Squirrely showed Gray Squirrel how to open the macadamia nuts.”  A shot of Squirrelly and Gray Squirrel drinking milk together from a shattered coconut.  Caption:  “Squirrely showed Gray Squirrel how to drink coconut milk.”
  2. A shot of Gray Squirrel in shock, being shown Squirrely’s hoard of nuts for the first time.  Caption:  “Squirrely showed Gray Squirrel his collection of nuts, and Gray Squirrel couldn’t believe how many Squirrely had saved.”
  3. A shot of Squirrelly and Gray Squirrel in a palm tree looking at the beach together.  Two pairs of cute little footprints, made of wet sand, lead up the tree and around the branch where they stand.  Caption:  “He showed Gray Squirrel the beach.”
  4. A shot of the two on their branch cutely imitating the human surfers, with Squirrelly taking the lead and Gray Squirrel learning.  Caption:  “They even imitated the surfers together.”
  5. A shot of the two looking down into the volcano, their front paws cutely over the edge.  Caption:  “Squirrelly showed Gray Squirrel the volcano.  Gray Squirrel was scared, and Squirrelly acted unafraid like an old expert.”
  6. Here we see the two squirrels huddled together on their backs amidst their stored macadamia nuts.  They each hold a macadamian nut in their front paws and look utterly at piece.  If we can pull it off artistically, they can do this while pretending to shiver, perhaps indicated by wavy lines around the squirrels.  Caption:  “They even sometimes pretended it was winter and huddled together for warmth, pretending to shiver from the cold while they shared macadamia nuts.”
  7. A final shot of the two squirrels together in a classic Hawaiian setting.  It’d be cute if they were wearing little lays, standing upright in a palm tree, looking out at the sun setting upon the ocean and the surfers.  Caption:  “Squirrelly was happy not to be the only squirrel in Hawaii.”

As a closing image for the endpages, I’d like to recapitulate the opening image by having Squirrely with Grey Squirrel on a map of Hawaii, the pair playing with a macadamia nut.

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Children\'s Books by Julian Darius:
For the Love of a Puppy
The Only Squirrel in Hawaii
The Pug and the Finch