Apr 23, 2016

Squirrel Stories: A Character You Won't Forget

While reading fiction picture books for the Cybils awards I encountered a range of characters from animal to vegetable to fantastical to mechanical. 
Oh, and human, too.
Most were delightful; many even memorable.
Among the most memorable is Mr. Squirrel.
NorthSouth Publishing, 2015

That's Mr. Squirrel right there, on the cover of MR. SQUIRREL AND THE MOON, written and illustrated by Sebastian Meschenmoser. He appears to specialize in quirky and unforgettable characters, as you'll see here: Teaching.net.

In the midst of marathon reading, note-taking, and evaluating, this book compelled me to comment at some length. Here's what I had to say about it on Goodreads: 
"Oh, my. I can't exactly say why, but I wasn't expecting to enjoy this when only reading the title. But it won me over from the cover and endpapers and wrapped itself around my heart with each page turn. The stark contrasts throughout seemed like a perfect parable of life- conflict, worry, determination, surprises, apparent success leading to more challenges and absurdity, balanced with an earnest belief in ourselves. Mr. Squirrel's reality (*and his somber black and white imagination) contrast with the brilliant glow of the "moon". The illustrations themselves and the color palette elevate this to brilliant, in my opinion.
This is "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie" flipped on its head and given a moral spine.
The somber "punishment" scenes are utterly hilarious, and the eventual final scene mirrors the hunched silhouette from those somber scenes.
In my many teaching years I often witnessed innocent, earnest kids imagining that some unexpected development in their lives could result in disproportionately negative consequences. I wish I had this book to share with them at the time."

For a detailed description of the story, take a read of the FUSE-8 Blog post from School Library Journal, here.

Better still, check it out of your local library and read it for yourselves. Then again. Then return it and buy a copy for yourself or for someone you love.
Then sit with them and read it again.

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