Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Secret Life of Squirrels by Nancy Rose

Jessica Olin wrote a fun post about squirrels on her Letters to a Young Librarian blog, prompting me to share my own love for these little beasts with a photo taken at Abkhazi garden in Victoria, BC:
...and a link to my archives for a review of Squirrels of North America nature guide by Tamara Eder.
...and give a preview of my next review, which will be of Sita's Ramayana by Samhita Arni and Moyna Chitrakar, a tale with some scary fierce squirrels that join other animals and Rama in a battle against a demon king with ten heads.
Detail from Sita's Ramayana. Art by Moyna Chitrakar, Text by Samhita Arni.
...and to write about a wonderful children's picture book: The Secret Life of Squirrels by Nancy Rose.

Through the window at her home in Nova Scotia, Nancy Rose photographs squirrels exploring dioramas that she has created. I cannot tell you how adorable these images are. You must see for yourself at The Secret Life of Squirrels website.

The photos have been assembled together with text into a charming narrative about Mr. Peanuts, an atypical squirrel. Instead of gathering nuts and climbing trees, Mr. Peanuts cooks on a tiny grill, plays piano, and reads. "He especially likes to read aloud. (You may have heard him chattering in your backyard.)"

Mr. Peanuts invites his cousin to visit. His preparations include vacuuming, laundry and baking. When Cousin Squirrel arrives, they play games, go out for ice cream, and "scare each other with ghost stories, including 'The Old Haunted Tree' and 'The One-Eyed Owl.' You can't tell yourself a ghost story, thinks Mr. Peanuts. You need a friend."

The Secret Life of Squirrels is great for all ages. The simple story has a familiar scenario - preparing the house for a visitor, having fun with a friend - and it's easy for very young children to follow. The photographs are as cute as they are fascinating. Examining them for the details of how they were created is part of their attraction. Children who like crafting things will enjoy figuring out how they might make similar scenes. Lots of adults like miniature worlds too, and will appreciate the hours of patience necessary for Rose to get the perfect shot with live squirrel models.

Readalikes: Here Comes the Garbage Barge (Jonah Winter); Meerkat Mail (Emily Gravett); Town Mouse, Country Mouse (Jan Brett).

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