The Unlimited Squirrels return for a metafictive romp—hooray!
Carrying a copy of the book (yes, this book), one squirrel asks “Who is the MYSTERY READER?” The others respond, one after another: “Let’s. Read. And. Find out!” So begins this sequel to I Lost My Tooth! (2018), a brilliant, 96-page laugh track composed of four stories and three “acorn-y” jokes. In the first story, the squirrels struggle to decode the letters of a stop sign. Thankfully, the heroic Mystery Reader arrives on the scene—complete with mask and underpants—to help them sound out their letters: “Ssssttt… / …OP!” The second story includes a brief history of writing systems (and a web address for further info); the third divulges “Mo Squirrel’s” own writing process. Though narratively all over the place (in a good way), this takes the self-referential torch from We Are in a Book! (2010) and highlights the next step up in reading development. Willems’ high-interest presentation and formula create a familiar, entertaining format that combines fact, fiction, and plenty of squirrels. The text complexity is similar to that found in the Elephant and Piggie books, but there are more color-coded dialogue bubbles per page. Willems also employs “emote-acorns” to highlight characters’ emotions. Readers may never find out who the Mystery Reader is, but, in the process of investigating, they just might sound out their own reading superpowers!
Delightfully on-brand. Kids will book it to the shelves for this one. (Early reader. 5-8)