A sensitive tale of loss, friendship, and courage.

THE BOY AND RED SQUIRREL

A TALE OF FRIENDSHIP BONDS

In this children’s book, a boy wonders how to help his friend, a red squirrel, when new construction threatens her home tree.

Johnny, a little boy, is happy to learn that soon, new houses will be built in his area, which could mean new friends. Going off by himself as usual one day, he notices a red squirrel who is busily gathering and eating nuts. She’s shy at first, but Johnny’s quietness builds trust, and she tells Johnny about herself. The boy admires the squirrel’s beauty and calls her Nutting for her love of nuts, her favorite food. The two become friends. Nutting learns to trust the boy, showing him her home tree, and Johnny is always careful to respect her: “She was wild but fragile. Johnny learnt to be gentle and kind. He felt he was the protector and should care for her.” One day, though, the new construction begins, and Johnny is alarmed to realize this will threaten Nutting’s home. He tries to think of a substitute that will keep her nearby. Perhaps the small playground down the road will have a good bush or tree or, failing that, the city park farther away. Though sad for Nutting, Johnny vows to keep visiting her no matter what: “Changes would come, but the two friends were determined to stay together.” Li (Philo, Our Dog, 2013) tells a sweet story tinged with melancholy, though it ends on a brave note. There is simply nothing to be done about the new construction that will destroy Nutting’s beloved home tree, and, unlike many children’s books, there is no magical or last-minute solution that can protect it. Johnny hopes to make something in his backyard out of a carved wooden stand, but his creativity founders on the reality of what squirrels need. This makes his determination to help all the more moving. Li’s softly colored, attractive illustrations effectively underline the story’s poignancy. A small quibble is Li’s unidiomatic use of “the land,” as in “a house built on one side of the land.”

A sensitive tale of loss, friendship, and courage.

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4575-5692-0

Page Count: 42

Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

THE LORAX

The greening of Dr. Seuss, in an ecology fable with an obvious message but a savingly silly style. In the desolate land of the Lifted Lorax, an aged creature called the Once-ler tells a young visitor how he arrived long ago in the then glorious country and began manufacturing anomalous objects called Thneeds from "the bright-colored tufts of the Truffula Trees." Despite protests from the Lorax, a native "who speaks for the trees," he continues to chop down Truffulas until he drives away the Brown Bar-ba-loots who had fed on the Tuffula fruit, the Swomee-Swans who can't sing a note for the smogulous smoke, and the Humming-Fish who had hummed in the pond now glumped up with Gluppity-Glupp. As for the Once-let, "1 went right on biggering, selling more Thneeds./ And I biggered my money, which everyone needs" — until the last Truffula falls. But one seed is left, and the Once-let hands it to his listener, with a message from the Lorax: "UNLESS someone like you/ cares a whole awful lot,/ nothing is going to get better./ It's not." The spontaneous madness of the old Dr. Seuss is absent here, but so is the boredom he often induced (in parents, anyway) with one ridiculous invention after another. And if the Once-let doesn't match the Grinch for sheer irresistible cussedness, he is stealing a lot more than Christmas and his story just might induce a generation of six-year-olds to care a whole lot.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 1971

ISBN: 0394823370

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1971

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children.

THE NIGHT IS YOURS

On hot summer nights, Amani’s parents permit her to go outside and play in the apartment courtyard, where the breeze is cool and her friends are waiting.

The children jump rope to the sounds of music as it floats through a neighbor’s window, gaze at stars in the night sky, and play hide-and-seek in the moonlight. It is in the moonlight that Amani and her friends are themselves found by the moon, and it illumines the many shades of their skin, which vary from light tan to deep brown. In a world where darkness often evokes ideas of evil or fear, this book is a celebration of things that are dark and beautiful—like a child’s dark skin and the night in which she plays. The lines “Show everyone else how to embrace the night like you. Teach them how to be a night-owning girl like you” are as much an appeal for her to love and appreciate her dark skin as they are the exhortation for Amani to enjoy the night. There is a sense of security that flows throughout this book. The courtyard is safe and homelike. The moon, like an additional parent, seems to be watching the children from the sky. The charming full-bleed illustrations, done in washes of mostly deep blues and greens, make this a wonderful bedtime story.

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55271-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more