Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Friday, June 28, 2013

Into The Great Outdoors

The attraction of tents, whether shaped by quilts and chairs in the solace of your home or by any number of commercial manufacturers for use outdoors in any season, is undisputed.  There is a comfortable coziness inside especially at night within the warm glow from a flashlight or lantern.  Depending on where your tent is located (bedroom, backyard, National Park or wilderness), the sounds and visitors in the night, or day, may vary.

While most people at one point in their lives have reaped the benefits of camping outdoors in a tent, there are others who never have or never will partake in this form of adventure.  They prefer the risk factor of staying home versus venturing into the unknown.  As readers of the series can probably guess, Scaredy Squirrel falls into the former category. Little does our worry-wart friend know but in Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping (Kids Can Press) written and illustrated by Melanie Watts, life has one surprise after another in store for him.

Scaredy Squirrel never goes camping.

It's too unpredictable and needs more effort than he is willing to invest.  There are six, no more, no less, problems which might arise, skunks, zippers, mosquitoes, quicksand, penguins, and The Three Bears. (Are you laughing yet?  I am.)

He's got the perfect plan for camping without ever leaving his snug dwelling.  Television guide in hand, he's made a mental list of camping and adventure shows to watch.  Hmmmm....there is one small hitch though.  Scaredy Squirrel needs to complete the successful navigation to the nearest electrical outlet. 

Mr. Ready-For-Any Disaster begins preparations.  His necessary supplies make no sense at all unless paired with the aforementioned hazards; his logic defies explanation.  His attire from head to toe including a nose plug for whiffy smells and a penny for good luck will promote happiness...he thinks.  Every detail is considered.  There is a time schedule. A map from home to goal with notes for using the supplies is an essential.

With physical training successfully finished and the weather and natural phenomenon (volcanic eruptions) monitored, our "Nervous Nellie"  skitters along his pre-determined route until...gigantic trouble looms into his vision.  Fright ensues. All plans are abandoned in light of sheer survival.  Hours later Scaredy Squirrel makes a discovery which, he has to admit, changes his outlook about the outdoors.

Melanie Watt has created in the character of Scaredy Squirrel a means to face fears with silly, super-readiness. From the first page covered in zippers containing a message:

Scaredy Squirrel insists you check your zippers before reading this book.

followed by the title page showing him, eyes closed wearing a hat with netting as a mosquito waits at the ready, readers are treated to this little guy's special brand of thinking.  With short, matter-of-fact sentences, single word labels, explanatory guidelines and comments we are privy to the process in this latest episode.  His postscript sums up the entire narrative in a nutshell...acorn specifically.

Digitally rendered illustrations in natural shades of greens, browns, rusty oranges with red accents color Scaredy Squirrel's world.  The expressions on his face whether relaxing, in conversation, fearful, determinedly planning or at ease in blissful enjoyment are fully animated, charming and hilarious.  For emphasis he may appear in a circle within another picture. Rows of squares, two-page spreads, diagrams, maps, instructions, charts, and single page visuals match the mood of the story to perfection.

All year long in the "W" area of fiction there is a gaping hole where the Scaredy Squirrel books would be shelved. They are returned and leave again on the same day; sometimes in the same class period.  Fans of the series are going to love this newest installment by Melanie Watt, Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping.  Even if you've never read a Scaredy Squirrel title, this one is not to be missed.  How could you not read this book, looking at the face on the jacket and cover?  Pair it with your other camping books, funny books or those books to be read over and over.

A link to Melanie Watt's blog is embedded in her name above. She has lots of extras, several book trailers for other books in the series.  Scaredy Squirrel has his own website linked above.  Follow this link to a couple of activity pages


  1. We LOVE Scaredy Squirrel. So glad there's another one! We've had skunks and bears on our camping trips. No quicksand or penguins, though.

    1. I am so glad you stopped by the blog, Madelyn. I think this might be one of my favorite Scaredy Squirrel books. I laughed out loud a couple of times. Luckily I have never encountered any critters in my camping adventures.

  2. This looks so good! I can't wait to read it myself!