A little squirrel imagines hiding in his mom’s briefcase and sneaking off to work with her.
Walnut doesn’t want to be separated from his mother all day long. So he and his mom fantasize about what they would do if he came with her to work. He hides in her pocket and scares her. Then she captures him and puts him in her pencil cup. Luckily, he escapes using a paper-clip ladder. This imaginative romp takes them swinging with monkeys in the trees and sailing the seven seas. However, just like in real life, Mom has to go back to work. Walnut doesn’t understand why. Mom offers a matter-of-fact explanation: “I go to work so I can pay rent on our den and buy you Nutty Clusters and Super Squirrel socks. And I’m good at what I do. / Just like you are good at kickball and drawing.” Most of the tale is imaginative banter, but Hall adroitly touches on the question kids are really asking: Why is work so important it takes a parent away? Bell’s fuzzy-tailed critters and soft, warm hues create a cozy environment for comforting a little one’s fears. The end feels a bit like a tacked-on separation-anxiety solution (Mom sends a note and a photo to school with Walnut), but that doesn’t undercut the sensitivity of the whole story.
Hassled parents will appreciate having yet another resource to combat this common childhood worry. (Picture book. 3-6)