July 2008

Playing it safe at the beach

By Melanie Watt
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The title of this book says it all. As the first page explains: "Scaredy Squirrel never goes to the beach. He'd rather vacation at home alone where it's safe than risk being surrounded by the wrong crowd." Specifically, he fears sea monsters, pirates, seagulls, jellyfish, coconuts and lobsters. To avoid all of this, Scaredy Squirrel decides to build his own beach, with things like an inflatable pool, a plastic flamingo and kitty litter (for sand). Once he sets it up, however, Scaredy Squirrel realizes he's missing one crucial thing: the sound of the ocean. To remedy this, he decides to go to the beach and grab a seashell that he can listen to back home at his private beach.

The great fun of the Scaredy Squirrel books (this is the third) is Melanie Watt's amusing text and artwork. Often the pages are in the form of a how-to manual, such as a spread showing our hero's "Guide to Building a Safe Beach," or another spread called "Beach Map (Mission: Operation Seashell)." Such pages are whimsically detailed, giving young readers plenty to look at and laugh at. No doubt they'll love the diagram showing the squirrel's "beachwear," which includes no less than nine items—one of which is "protective headgear for falling coconuts." Scaredy Squirrel launches an intricate plan to reach the beach (involving a passport and a delivery truck), and once there, he is quite surprised to find that the beach is crowded, which makes him panic. He plays dead, but eventually finds the perfect seashell. What's more, he begins to relax and enjoy himself. In the end, he discovers that he actually likes the beach—and, as a result, he decides to make one final adjustment to his beach back home.

Young readers will love this book, which brims with humor and clever diagrams and illustrations. And Scaredy Squirrel is so darn cute that kids may want to try their own hand at drawing this lovable character. With luck, they'll also take the book's message to heart, and learn to venture beyond their comfort zones and to overcome their fears.

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Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach

Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach

By Melanie Watt
Kids Can Press
ISBN 9781554532254

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