The cadre of compassionate forest critters from A Loud Winter’s Nap (2017) returns to prove that teamwork beats going it alone.
Squirrel’s no slouch. For the last eight years she has won the Great Acorn Hunt, but this time around someone’s thrown a wrench in the works. After a rule change, the race is now a team competition, and Squirrel quickly discovers her friends Beaver, Tortoise, Rabbit, and Bird aren’t quite as adept as she at navigating treetops. Come race day, Squirrel must constantly cede her lead to help her teammates when they get stuck. It’s not entirely clear why her friends want to participate in the race at all or, for that matter, why the cutthroat competitor, after swallowing her annoyance with them throughout, has a 180-degree change of heart mere pages from the tale’s end. She’s left her friends behind and snagged the Golden Acorn by herself— but “Tired, sweaty and...lonely,” Squirrel abandons it and goes back to her friends. “From now on, Squirrel’s friends would ALWAYS come first.” This epiphany feels tacked on at best, if not outright unbelievable. Hudson’s artistic flair helps to compensate for her storytelling. Set against a rich autumnal backdrop, pumpkin pie, candied apples, and warm woolen scarves pop. Plus, it’s hard to imagine any funnier representation of a beaver squeezing through oaken knotholes than this.
Forget the message. Come for the cacophony of color and the slapstick instead. (Picture book. 4-7)