Greetings parents and caregivers of young children! Phil might have been on to something last month. An early Spring seems to be here to stay in this neck of the woods. There is but one word that epitomizes the feeling I get when I begin to see (and sniff) the first signs of Spring rebirth: squirrels. At various points throughout the past few weeks I’ve gotten the privilege of watching giddily as the little rodents have invaded my back yard and engaged in all manner of comedic high jinks. These misadventures have included s’more thievery, conniving caching, tag, and…*ahem*…wrestling. My son has also loved watching the squirrels (more than he’s enjoyed television) and my cats have exerted themselves more by chattering and batting hopelessly at closed windows than they did the entire winter. At my house minds and bodies are being exercised on account of these little creatures! Huzzah!
I’m admittedly a squirrel fanatic outside of my own residence too. The squirrels at the park are fun to visit because they are altogether different than their hyper-energetic backyard counterparts. Most waddle slowly, as if taking cues from the ducks. This could be on account of their extreme squirrel obesity or because they know they’re going to score a morsel no matter their speed. In any case, they’re a little more chill around humans and that’s the perfect storm for up close and personal squirrel interactions. (WARNING: there is at least one vicious finger nibbling rabble-rouser at every park). The park-variety squirrel top five favorite foods include walnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, cat food, and Cheerios. In any case, I like squirrels. I think you get the point..
Whether at the zoo, park, in your own backyard, or in one of the following books, I hope you get the chance to visit a non-nibbling squirrel in the near future. Or that one visits you…either way, you win. Until next time, keep reading together!
Books for grown-ups to read aloud to kiddos:
Ol’ Mama Squirrel by David Ezra Stein
Chook! Chook! Chook! Is the cry of Ol’ Mama Squirrel by David Ezra Stein. Be it train, plane, kite, bird, or dog, Ol’ Mama Squirrel knows just how to protect her precious little kiddos from predators. But when a brown bear visits the tree she’ll need to rally her entire network of squirrel associates. Will their chooks and nutty projectiles prove to be enough to vanquish the beast?
My Cousin Momo by Zachariah O’Hora
I just know you will love My Cousin Momo by Zachariah O’Hora. Momo does things his own way. But when he visits family, they don’t like his version of Acorn-Pong, Hide-and-Seek, or Superheros. Will his cousins ever come around and try things the Momo way? Find out in this contemporary yet timeless picture book.
Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping by Mélanie Watt
I promised my son I’d take him camping this spring. Only problem? I’ve never been camping myself. Should be interesting. We’ll definitely be reading and re-reading Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping by Mélanie Watt before our trip. Scaredy Squirrel doesn’t really like the wilderness. He’d prefer to learn about camping by watching his new television. The only issue is that he’s going to need a really long extension cord to make it work. And to get the extension cord he might just have to set foot in the…gasp… wilderness.
Mario Makes a Move by Jill McElmurry
Isabella and Mario in Mario Makes a Move by Jill McElmurry remind me of two squirrels that incessantly chase one another around the big sycamore in my back yard. This book is silly fun and might give readers a bit of insight into the ways squirrels secretly hone their acrobatic routines.
Those Darn Squirrels by Adam Rubin
There just aren’t enough picture books with grumpy coots named Old Man Fookwire. Luckily for us, Adam Rubin has remedied that woeful situation in Those Darn Squirrels (illustrated by Daniel Salmieri). When Fookwire’s birds threaten to head south for the winter, he devises a system of feeders to keep them on site. The only issue? The scurry of squirrels that have discovered his plan and have designed a way (spoiler alert: squirrel catapult) to feast on the birds’ vittles.
Frisky Brisky Hippity by Susan Lurie
Frisky Brisky Hippity Hop by Susan Lurie (photographs by Murray Head) is based on a jaunty little poem for children originally written by Alexina B. White. This fun book of verse and photos follows squirrels throughout their day as they “leap and soar from shade to sun” and “scrambly brambly no time to rest, make a home in a leafy nest”.
Books for kiddos to read on their own or with an adult’s help:
A New Home by Tim Bowers
A New Home by Tim Bowers stars Matt as the new Squirrel in the forest. Matt is sad when he discovers he doesn’t have any friends. Neighbor Pam is sad when a blustery wind sweeps her prized hat from her head. When Matt catches the hat he finds the perfect opportunity to be brave and make a new friend. Level 1.
Squirrels on Skis by J. Hamilton Ray
What could be better than a hungry bevy of squirrels? How about a hungry bevy of squirrels…on skis! Squirrels on Skis by J. Hamilton Ray (illustrated by Pascal Lemaitre) is a book you must judge by its cover (in a good way) as it contains page after page of squirrel hordes skiing merrily about the town. Eventually all that skiing makes for ravenous little critters and the townsfolk will have to exercise their culinary creativity to avoid mass squirrel exhaustion. Level 2.
Squirrel’s Fun Day by Lisa Moser
Squirrel wants to “Go! Go! Go!” in Squirrel’s Fun Day by Lisa Moser (illustrated by Valerie Gorbachev). As he enacts his plan for a super fun day, Squirrel finds out not all his friends know about having fun. Squirrel shows everyone how to turn each moment into a memory in an endearingly hyperactive way in this beginning chapter book. Level 3.