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Middle-school librarians Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan prove that two heads are better than one when it comes to discussing YA and children's books

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Friday, September 27, 2013 8:44 am
Squirrely Selections
Posted by: Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan

MamaLynn:  Ol’ Mama Squirrel (Penguin/Nancy Paulsen 2013) has a big job!  She has babies to protect and there are dangers everywhere.  Fortunately she is more than up to the job.  “Chook Chook Chook!”  Mama squirrel scolds everything that comes along including cats, dogs, owls, stuck kites and low-flying airplanes.  But when a “great growling grizzly bear” comes along, Mama has to call in reinforcements.  Fear not, the day  – and the squirrel babies – are saved by a fast-thinking army of mama squirrels.

Mama Squirrel is solid and chunky with a great swirl of a tail and her personality absolutely vibrates from the pages with every Chook.  Stein’s funny black-outlined illustrations are all warm browns and greens. He has used a wonderful mix of perspectives from inside the nest looking out to one two-page spread that looks down the length of the tree at the big bear climbing up.  My favorite may be Mama Squirrel zooming from one tree to the next, carrying her babies, off to raise the alarm, like some kind of furry superhero.

Squirrels on SkisThe story is a great read aloud for story-time with plenty of great chooks and plonks and each page offers funny details for young readers who will want this over and over again.  Just watch out for falling acorns!

Cindy: My yard and deck and bird feeders are overrun with black squirrels and they steal the oranges I put out for the orioles in May but still I love to watch them scamper along my deck rails and leap for the trees. We are just headed in to autumn, but before we know it here in Michigan we will have snow on the ground so I have a winter squirrel book to share. I wish I’d had Squirrels on Skis (Random 2013) by J. Hamilton Ray when my skiing daughters were young. There are very few books that include this popular winter sport.  This funny action-packed title in the Beginner Books imprint tickled me as skiing squirrels overrun a town:

Nobody knew
how the mania grew.
First there was one,
and then there were two.

Three more came gliding
from under the trees.
LOOK! On the hill.
Those are squirrels on skis!

squirrelAs more and more squirrels show up clogging the town, there’s the mystery of where the skiis and poles are coming from, and then the problem of how to rid the town of this congested annoying traffic. There’s a happy resolution for everyone in this enjoyable story for young readers. Pascal Lemaitre’s skiing squirrels are adorable and add to the fun. Now if I could just protect my oranges for the orioles….


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