September 20 – 26
Life can be pretty good when you have a routine that you stick to every single day. That's exactly how Scaredy Squirrel feels about life in his tree. He has it all figured out, including emergency plans for every scenario, until one day when he is forced to leave his tree! Anything can happen when Scaredy Squirrel is pushed out of his comfort zone.
Watt, M. (2006). Scaredy Squirrel. Toronto: Kids Can Press.
This is such an adorable book! I think that Watt's style of illustration really draws children into the story. And I like how the narration is basically that she's speaking to us on behalf of Scaredy Squirrel. From a child's perspective, Scaredy Squirrel is silly, but I'm sure they can see the big questions behind the story: what are you afraid of, why are you afraid, and/or how will you deal with your fear when you see it? As a grown up who enjoys categorizing things, I especially was fond of Watt's means of categorizing Scaredy Squirrel's fears and his plan for the emergency kit.
From Publishers Weekly:
Ages 4-8. It's an indication of how well Watt (Leon the Chameleon) knows her helicopter-parented audience that she's able to turn the phrase 'antibacterial soap' into a bona fide punchline. Fearing attack by Martians, sharks, poison ivy, killer bees, tarantulas and/or germs, Scaredy Squirrel decides 'he'd rather stay in his safe and familiar tree than risk venturing out into the unknown.' But just in case something goes awry, this most anxious rodent also has an extensive emergency kit that includes sardines (to distract the sharks), the aforementioned antibacterial soap and a parachute. Then one day, Scaredy's unvarying and admittedly boring routine is thrown for a loop (it's the emergency kit's fault), and he discovers he's a flying squirrel--an epiphany so momentous that it garners the book's only gatefold spread. Will Scaredy's life be changed forever now that new vistas have opened up to him? Well, sort of. Watt largely dispenses with conventional visual storytelling; instead, she tells the hero's story through a series of boldly graphic and endearingly goofy charts and diagrams (one outlines the anxious rodent's 'top secret,' four- option plan for exiting the tree in case of emergency). Funny in their own right, the pages also spoof all the sincerely inane worksheets that are the staple of elementary school homework. Youngsters will go nuts over this one. (Mar.). 40pg. CAHNERS PUBLISHING, c2006.
[Review of Scaredy Squirrel]. (2006 March 13). Publisher's Weekly, pp 64.
Peters, J. (2006 May 1). [Review of Scaredy Squirrel]. Booklist, pp 94.
Gr. 1-3. In a tongue-in-cheek tale that may help to prod anxious readers out of their hidebound routines, a squirrel discovers the pleasures of leaping into the unknown. As the world's a scary place, what with the killer bees, green Martians, tarantulas, germs, and sharks that might be lurking about, Scaredy Squirrel keeps to his tree, and to a precise, minute-by-minute daily schedule--until a supposed 'killer bee' actually wanders by, causing Squirrel to dislodge his suitcase-size emergency kit. A wild lunge to rescue it turns into a long glide (portrayed in a gatefold), as Squirrel discovers to his astonishment that he is a flying squirrel. Eventually, Squirrel returns in triumph to his tree and from then on adds a daily glide to his accustomed rounds. Despite the simply drawn cartoons and brief text, this is more sophisticated in tone than Martin Waddell's 'Tiny's Big Adventure' (2004), though the message is similar. ((Reviewed May 1, 2006)). John Peters. 40pg. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2006.
From Horn Book:
(Primary) How do you avoid tarantulas, poison ivy, Martians, killer bees, germs, and sharks? If you're Scaredy Squirrel, you stay put in your oak tree and keep an emergency kit close at hand. Day in and day out, Scaredy follows the same routine--'wake up / eat a nut / look at view / eat a nut / look at view'--never, ever setting a paw on the ground. Sure, there are drawbacks--'same old view / same old nuts / same old place'--but at least 'everything is predictable. All is under control.' Watt's casual, child-friendly illustrations and tongue-in- cheek text have a lot of fun with Scaredy and his story. The bold, inviting compositions feature simple shapes, black crayonlike outlines, and paint-box colors; varied layouts and perspectives add energy. (One design quibble: the decision to conclude the story on the back endpapers may be a problem for libraries.) When a smiling, roly-poly bee (more bumble- than 'killer') drifts by, Scaredy panics and knocks his emergency kit out of the tree: 'NOT part of the Plan.' He jumps to try to catch it and--lo and behold--discovers he's 'no ordinary squirrel. He's a FLYING squirrel!' As Scaredy Squirrel would tell you: if you take a flying leap into the unknown once in a while, you may learn something new about yourself. 40pg. THE HORN BOOK, c2006.
[Review of Scaredy Squirrel]. (2006 May 1). Horn Book, pp 305.
Library Setting Uses:
I think this would be a fun activity for an after-school activity intended for elementary students. The librarian running the program could read out loud the story and then afterwards, hand each of the students two coloring sheets. One coloring sheet will have different pictures of things that may or may not go into an emergency kit (it's all about perspective). The other coloring sheet that the children can fold in half so it looks like a first aid kit. Then, after coloring, they can cut out and paste different things into their kits for whatever emergency they want to prepare for. And then on the top of the "first aid kit" they should fill in the end to this prompt: "Do Not Open Unless __________". I also think this activity would make a great felt board that can be used while reading the story out loud.