A young ground squirrel helps an injured goose form an unlikely friendship in Henney’s revised edition of a 1993 picture book, with new illustrations by Klose.
Tac and Tuk, two ground squirrels, are cousins and best friends despite their differences. Adventurous Tac longs to travel far away from their colony in Texas to see the Rocky Mountains. Tuk prefers their home and takes his job as lookout for their colony very seriously. When Tac confesses her dreams of travel to Tuk, her cousin just laughs: “That’s silly,” he tells her. “The Rocky Mountains are on the other side of the world!” Frustrated that he doesn’t understand, Tac wanders off and discovers a goose caught in the plastic loops from a six-pack. Unable to leave the poor bird suffering, Tac hurries back to the colony, enlisting the other ground squirrels to help the goose; in the process, she earns herself a friend who might be able to help her realize her dream of traveling. There’s very little conflict here, despite the setup: Tac and Tuk’s friendship seems poised for tension due to their different dreams, but when Tac befriends the goose, Bettina Bird, Tuk joins Tac in visiting Bettina while she recovers. As the story ends, Tac is looking forward to future adventures beyond her own colony, but readers may feel let down by an expectation that her real adventure is left for a future installment. Vocabulary is appropriate for independent readers in early- to mid-elementary school, though the text is quite dense, even on pages with illustrations. Klose’s illustrations, half in color, half in black and white, are delightful, from Tuk’s proud poise above the colony to Tac’s silly pink ribbon around her head. The details are charming, such as one ground squirrel playfully hanging off a breaking reed while trying to help the injured goose.
A serene tale about a low-danger animal rescue featuring an adventurous and ambitious female protagonist.