A straightforward, vocabulary-rich portrait of a squirrel and his family.

READ REVIEW

SQUIRRELLY THE SQUIRREL

AND STARLETT

A young squirrel comes of age in this children’s book that’s part story and part nature lesson.

Friend (Icy the Iceberg, 2017) introduces readers to a family of squirrels that lives near a large cabin. The one most eager to leave the nest is Squirrelly. He helps his father build a new nest for their family, and most impressively, becomes a shrewd hunter of the cabin’s many bird feeders. Despite the cabin owner’s attempts to deter the squirrels, Squirrelly perseveres, often finding enough food to feed his clan through the winter. If only the same talents were bestowed upon his brother Sluggo, who ignores his father’s lessons and advice until it’s too late. Eventually, Squirrelly moves out of the comfort of his parents’ nest into his own tree, and soon after becomes smitten with Starlett. From there, it’s a story of boy meets girl (squirrel meets squirrel?) as Squirrelly shares his food and his gathering practices with Starlett, asks her to marry him (over corn and acorns, of course), and starts his own family. Not even a rough thunderstorm can deter Squirrelly from providing Starlett and their soon-to-be brood with the safety and warmth of his own childhood. Accompanied by Makis’ (Icy the Iceberg, 2017) simple, colorful images, this book oscillates awkwardly between storytelling and science lesson, with pages devoted to the structure of certain tree nuts and technical descriptions of bird feeders. There’s some stiff language not usually found in children’s stories (“Due to the fact”; “The final outcome”), which isn’t helped by the italicized vocabulary words sprinkled throughout the tale. Despite this, Squirrelly is a good-hearted character who readers can follow from impatient child to caring adult. Kids who like to imagine the inner lives of squirrels should especially appreciate the anthropomorphic traits of Squirrelly, Starlett, and their families, from their described emotions to their illustrated homes. The moral of the story is hammered home in the final chapter (“An Uncertain Future”) that leaves no guesswork in what message the author wants to impart to children.

A straightforward, vocabulary-rich portrait of a squirrel and his family.

Pub Date: July 20, 2017

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 64

Publisher: LitFire Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2017

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A brisk, buffed-up finish threaded with inner and outer, not to mention sartorial, changes.

THE TOWER OF NERO

From the Trials of Apollo series , Vol. 5

In this tumultuous series closer, Apollo, transformed into a mortal teenager, takes on both a deified emperor in a luxurious Manhattan high-rise and an older adversary.

Lester/Apollo’s coast-to-coast quest reaches its climactic stage as, with help from both eager squads of fledgling demigods from Camp Half-Blood and reluctant allies from realms deep below New York, he invades the palatial lair of Emperor Nero—followed by a solo bout with another foe from a past struggle. Riordan lays on the transformation of the heedless, arrogant sun god to a repentant lover of his long-neglected semidivine offspring and of humanity in general, which has served as the series’ binding theme, thickly enough to have his humbled narrator even apologizing (twice!) to his underwear for having to change it periodically. Still, the author delivers a fast, action-driven plot with high stakes, lots of fighting, and occasional splashes of gore brightened by banter and silly bits, so readers aren’t likely to mind all the hand-wringing. He also leaves any real-life parallels to the slick, megalomaniacal, emotionally abusive Nero entirely up to readers to discern and dishes out just deserts all round, neatly tying up loose ends in a set of closing vignettes. The supporting cast is predominantly White, with passing mention of diverse representation.

A brisk, buffed-up finish threaded with inner and outer, not to mention sartorial, changes. (glossary) (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4847-4645-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: yesterday

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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