THE EMPTY SQUIRREL by Carol Carrick

THE EMPTY SQUIRREL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Three gentle stories about Paul, who throws back a fish he has intended to eat, salvages a friend's beat-up toy squirrel by making it into a hand puppet, and frets over a pet turtle. He can keep the turtle, his mother says, if it eats--but it doesn't. Then just when Paul is resigned to releasing the turtle, he discovers that it likes tuna fish. The first story, about the fish, begins flatly: ""Paul and Ralph went fishing. It was Paul's first time. Ralph put a worm on Paul's hook. Paul cast out his line. . . ."" With so little personality, it's hard to remember which kid is which. What follows, though, is nicely attuned to the child's sensibility which we will recognize as Paul's. He puts his catch in an old fish tank overnight (because today's dinner is already made), then becomes so attached to Albert, as he calls the fish, that he decides to take him back to the pond. But then Carrick adds what can only be viewed as a caveat: ""A week later he caught two trout. He had them for dinner. They were delicious."" Not heavyhanded, but the incident would be better left without the moderating adult hand. All three stories are basically object lessons--demonstrating, if nothing else, that it's nicer to be like Paul, who throws Stacy's squirrel outdoors on a cranky day but later tries to make up for his outbrust, than like Ralph, who kicks and tosses it for fun. But, with Carol Carrick's quiet empathy and Donald Carrick's warm pictures, they succeed in putting Paul, and their point, across.

Pub Date: March 9th, 1981
Publisher: Greenwillow