by Lynn Rae Perkins
Adventure and humor abound in this cautionary tale populated by squirrels and narrated by the author, as told to her by the elderly squirrel Jed. As a young squirrel Jed is snatched up by a hawk but manages to escape practicing an ancient squirrel defensive martial arts technique. While most of his community gathers to memorialize him, two of his young friends see Jed escape the hawk’s talons. They set off to find him and bring him home. Along their journey, they meet other squirrels and humans, along with misfortune, territorial conflict, and environmental disaster. TsTs, Chai, Jed, and their new friend Tchke must warn the squirrel communities of the impending disaster and convince them to move to safer parts of the forest. This is not an easy task; as one notes, “Getting squirrels to listen to reason is like getting a tree to drop its nuts at your front door.” Perkins nails the interactions between the squirrels, which is not far removed from that among humans. The friendship and environmental themes are blatant but far from overbearing. Witty asides in the form of footnotes add insight and levity to the squirrels’ predicament. That levity is evident in Perkins’ delightful sketches scattered throughout the narrative. This should have broad appeal as a read aloud, class use, and for independent reading. Its themes make it a good literature addition to a science or social studies unit. Reviewer: Peg Glisson.