When a squirrel cries over her lost hoard of acorns, she eventually lessens her disappointment by adjusting her attitude in this picture book.
Squirrel has an armful of acorns and couldn’t be happier until she trips and her booty drops into a rushing stream. She promptly bursts into tears. What will make her feel better? Prolific author Roman (If You Were Me and Lived in…Israel, 2016, etc.) provides the answer. Here, Squirrel’s mishap provides a lesson in putting difficult situations into perspective, thanks to Rabbit, who suggests that she view her loss through a 1-to-10 rating system, with 10 “being the worst thing ever.” Before Squirrel finds her silver lining, examples of how the system works in practice multiply: Froggy rates his F on a math test as an 8 on the sadness scale but drops it to a 6 when he remembers that he turned in extra credit afterward and earned a gold star. Squirrel and friends are reminded that a rained-out ballgame turned into fun puddle play; Foxy’s embarrassing slip on the ice inspired him to take skating lessons and excel. Roman doesn’t shrink from delivering a more profound example: the death of Squirrel’s Hammy the Hamster, Rabbit says, remains a 10 because “it doesn’t get much worse than this.” On the downside, finding the positives in Deer’s parents’ separation (less tension at home; a finite adjustment period) is simply too facile to be convincing. And it would be helpful to add reassurance in the text that this coping tool doesn’t discount the validity of children’s emotional responses. Visually, the book is a treat. Arkova’s (If You Were Me and Lived in…Viking Europe, 2016, etc.) illustrations—alternately stretching across two pages and appearing as multiple panels on a single page—beguile, with whimsical characters and a woodland setting alive with supple lines and a bright and varied palette.
An engaging work that offers its young target audience a healthy tool for responding to emotionally challenging predicaments.