Mr. Squirrel and his friends celebrate a new season.
Emerging, blinking, into a bright and sunny day, Mr. Squirrel accepts the bear’s advice on how to celebrate spring: “Let’s lie in the sun, stroll through the meadows, and fill our tummies with fine food!” His friend the hedgehog, however, is too distracted to join in. He’s spotted a “lovely lady hedgehog.” An adorably pensive Mr. Squirrel suggests that seeking “fame and glory” would be one way to woo her. A series of wordless pages showcases the amusingly odd outfits he cobbles together for them out of natural materials. Unfortunately, the grass skirts they choose reinforce negative stereotypes. Individual readers will need to decide whether that misstep outweighs the wonderful artwork and slyly humorous text. The scratchy colored-pencil illustrations charm as always with interesting, realistic details of flora and fauna as well as visual jokes. The imagined scene of the two small animals pictured as Don Quixote and Sancho Panza may be over the heads of young listeners, and likewise the central conceit linking springtime to thoughts of love. Their play assault on the bear, however, and the upshot of the hedgehog’s courtship should provoke laughs from a broad range of ages.
Fans of Mr. Squirrel will welcome his return and look forward to future seasons of fun; those who come to this story first may or may not be inspired to seek out others. (Picture book. 4-10)