Rainbow Fish creator Pfister moves from sea to forest to create another book in signature soft-edged watercolors. No shimmers this time.
The first two-page spread captures an idyllic wildflower scene in which “all was quiet and all was still.” But with a page turn, a crisis explodes. Readers come face to face with an enormous illustration of a horrified squirrel from whom “there came a scream so shrill / That all the trees quaked and quivered, / And all the animals shook and shivered.” The catastrophe? The squirrel’s hazelnuts have disappeared. Determined to find the thief, the squirrel visits a mole, mouse, rabbit, hamster (oddly, living loose in the European woods), and fox and accuses each of stealing his hazelnuts. The first four each deny being the thief and reply with a refrain that young listeners can chime in on: “I know for a fact it isn’t me.” Unsurprisingly, the fox threatens to eat the squirrel. With his tummy rumbling, the despairing squirrel heads home only to discover the missing hazelnuts under fallen leaves where he must have stored them. Ecstatic, the squirrel shares his news with his heretofore suspects, but rather than sharing his joy, they have “a different feeling.” In a rushed and not particularly satisfying ending, the squirrel apologizes and then eats some hazelnuts.
Vibrant, layered illustrations in lush woodland colors outshine a simplistic storyline.(Picture book. 3-6)