Nuts to You, by Lynne Rae Perkins

Although there have been plenty of animal fantasy books that I've loved over the years, I am suspicious of the genre as a whole.  Too often I have read animal books in which there is no clear reason why the characters are that particular sort of animal, which bothers me, and sometimes the cute and whimsical and precious are emphasized at the expense of the story.

So I have been putting off reading Nuts To You, by Lynne Rae Perkins (Greenwillow,  August 2014, ages 7-11ish), until yesterday morning.  Had it not been for its nomination for the Cybils Awards, I would probably have put it off forever and ever, despite a. Lynne Rae Perkins being a good writer and b. the book showing up on the Publishers Weekly best books of 2014 list and c. October having been Squirrel Awareness Month and d. being a fan of Scaredy Squirrel.

One of my many admirable character traits (besides modesty) is my willingness to admit I was wrong.

I was wrong in this case.

Because I really truly enjoyed Nuts to You, and thought the squirrel adventures were great and delightfully squirrely, and it was funny and I liked the pictures.   The squirrels were recognizably squirrels (as opposed to, say, voles) and it wasn't sweetly precious at all.

Brief summary:  Jed gets snatched by a hawk...but luck is on his side.  His friend, TsTs, sees him fall from the talons, and she and another friend set off to find him, following the power lines.   The finding part is the challenge, because the characters are, after all, squirrels, and if you have ever watched squirrels you will have noticed that they rarely travel in straight lines, and they scatter easily...

It is a good thing that Jed got snatched, because it turns out that the trees along the power lines are being cleared, and the squirrel homeland is in danger.  Happily this never becomes a Fantasy Danger, in which the chainsaws are sabotaged by heroic squirrels or something like that.  Instead it is the much more plausible "how the heck do you get a bunch of squirrels to believe their home is in danger when all they are thinking about is autumnal nut gathering" sort of story.

And like I said, it is funny, and I liked the individual squirrels as characters.  I especially appreciated the "loyalty to friends" motif not just because I like loyal friendships myself, but because I think it something the target audience of fourth and fifth graders really appreciates too.   Possibly even third graders, possibly even sixth.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed this, squirrels are always so fun to watch. Part trapeze artists on the power lines. Thanks for the review, looking forward to reading this.


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