Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Review: Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend

Scaredy Squirrel is back, and this time he's preparing to make a friend. And preparing is the right word as Scaredy Squirrel does not go into the world unarmed. In fact, Scaredy Squirrel even knows ahead of time who would make a good friend and who wouldn't:

"A few individuals Scaredy Squirrel is afraid to be bitten by: walruses, bunnies, beavers, piranhas, Godzilla."

Scaredy Squirrel decides on a goldfish as a new friend, because he has a "bubbly personality," is "squeaky clean" and "quiet" and, most importantly, has "NO teeth" and is "germ-free." A goldfish doesn't do much, "BUT is 100% safe!"

But a funny thing happens on the way to the pond. A dog begins to chase Scaredy Squirrel and, after several hours of playing dead, Scaredy realizes the dog only wants to play. Scaredy must reevaluate and finds his "almost perfect friend" has "muddy paws," "wet doggy smell," a "loud bark," "drool," "germs," and "tooth." Most poignantly, dog is "83% safe, but Lots of Fun!" Aren't all good friends the same?

Mélanie Watt's Scaredy Squirrel books are charming not only because they give a scaredy squirrel (or kid) a little nudge, but also because her cartoonish illustrations are cheerful, drop-dead funny, and full of intriguing details. She also indulges the little ones with series of lists as Scaredy goes about his day. (Have you ever noticed how much the 3- to 5-crowd loves a good list?) For example, when Scaredy is preparing to befriend goldfish, we learn of "A few items Scaredy Squirrel needs to make the Perfect Friend: lemon, name tag, mittens, comb, mirror, air freshener, toothbrush, chewtoy." Each item is placed in its own illustrated box. The air freshener does come in handy, but I won't spoil the pleasure in finding out how.

Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend is perfect for the three- to seven-year old reader and is an excellent choice for a school or library read aloud. Risk-averse children everywhere will thank you.
The prequel to Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend, Scaredy Squirel, was the 2006 Cybils Picture Book winner.

Review copy supplied by Raab Associates.