Earl the Squirrel

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For more information about the book and Don Freeman, please visit www.donfreeman.info.

Earl the Squirrel doesn’t think of himself as spoiled, but his mother does. She decides it’s high time Earl learns to find acorns for himself. There’s only one problem—he doesn’t know where to look. Earl’s friend Jill offers to help, but that’s not what Earl’s mother had in mind. So, wearing his bright red scarf, Earl sets off on his own for an action-packed ...

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For more information about the book and Don Freeman, please visit www.donfreeman.info.

Earl the Squirrel doesn’t think of himself as spoiled, but his mother does. She decides it’s high time Earl learns to find acorns for himself. There’s only one problem—he doesn’t know where to look. Earl’s friend Jill offers to help, but that’s not what Earl’s mother had in mind. So, wearing his bright red scarf, Earl sets off on his own for an action-packed acornfinding mission.

Striking black-and-white scratchboard art is accented by Earl’s crimson scarf. The effect is classic, clean, and thoroughly recognizable as Don Freeman’s signature style.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Never before published, this breezy, droll tale from the creator of Corduroy focuses on a rite of passage for an ingenuous young squirrel. When Earl's mother announces, "It is high time you went out and learned how to find acorns on your own," the carefree fellow instead pays a visit to his friend, a girl named Jill, who gives him an acorn--and a nutcracker to open it. Earl's indignant mother says, in what becomes a refrain, "Earl, come in here this instant. I want to speak to you!" She admonishes her offspring for being spoiled and insists he return the nutcracker. Jill then gives Earl another present--a red scarf she made for her doll. After another rebuke from his mother, Earl fashions a sack from his scarf and goes in search of acorns. Freeman uses his signature scratchboard style, with fine tooling in black and white that plays up both the red scarf (the only additional color, which underscores the item's pivotal role in the tale) and the jet-black night into which Earl ventures on his quest. The Great Horned Owl and Conrad the bull act as key players in Earl's mission, and the comical, nearly calamitous string of events leaves the lucky squirrel with plenty of acorns to make his mother proud. Freeman serves up some laugh-out-loud images, as well as some affecting ones, in a tale well worthy of publication at last. Ages 4-up. (Aug.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Using the same scratch board art as in his book Corduroy, the artist has created a classic tale of "growing up and finding one's own way." Earl the gray squirrel has a human friend, Jill. His mother thinks that it is time for Earl to find acorns on his own but disapproves of his turning to Jill for help. She thinks that Jill is turning Earl into a very spoiled squirrel. The repetition of Mother Squirrel's admonition "Come in here this instant. I want to speak to you." will be anticipated by early readers and listeners, alike. Jill gives Earl a warm red scarf, another gift of which Mother Squirrel despairs. Earl uses the scarf as a sack and heads out in the dark of night to find an acorn on his own. His quest involves an owl and a bull that is enraged by the red scarf. The bull charges Earl and succeeds in knocking into a huge (you guessed it) oak tree, shaking loose lots and lots of acorns—much to Earl's delight. Quest fulfilled, he returns to his mother to present her with a tasty acorn and to receive her praise for a job well done. The black-and-white illustrations are emphasized by the striking contrast of the red scarf (and the red of the bull's eye). Children will love hearing this story of courage, determination, and self actualization. As a read aloud, this title will make listeners want to have more stories by this award winning author. 2005, Penguin, Ages 3 to 6.
—Sheilah Egan
School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 2

Earl, a young squirrel, learns about responsibility and resourcefulness in Don Freeman's delightful tale (Viking, 2005). Earl's mother wants him to learn how to hunt for acorns, rather than relying on his human friend, Jill. His mother believes he is being spoiled, especially after Jill gives him a scarlet scarf. Earl is determined to make his mother proud, and with the help of his multi-purpose scarf, he returns home with acorns. The whimsical music and excellent sound effects bring Earl and the other characters to life. J. J. Myers' narration is spot-on, providing a squeaky young voice for Earl and a scolding tone for his mother. One track contains page-turn signals. The red scarf is the only element of color in Freeman's black-and-white scratchboard illustrations. An excellent choice for story time and for the classroom.-Sarah Flood, Breckinridge County Public Library, Hardinsburg, KY

School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-A posthumous publication of a manuscript by the creator of Corduroy (Viking, 1968). Earl's mother thinks that his friend Jill (a little girl) is spoiling her son when she gives him an acorn, a nutcracker, and her doll's red scarf, so Earl sets out to prove that he can find acorns on his own. The red scarf becomes a sack, a hat, and a bullfighter's cape, and the young squirrel comes back with a harvest of acorns and returns the scarf. The scarlet scarf leaps out of Freeman's otherwise black-and-white scratchboard illustrations. The pictures are full of energy and detail, and Earl is both cheeky and endearing. Kids will laugh when Conrad the bull gets stuck in the tree as Earl indignantly and fearlessly snatches the precious scarf from his horns, only to be plonked on the head by an acorn. The story is gentle, innocent, and funny, and although it was written many years ago, Freeman's ability to capture the artless adventures of childhood is of the moment.-Jane Barrer, formerly at Washington Square Village Creative Steps, New York City Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
From unnamed origins springs a wonderful, never-before-published book by Freeman, creator of Corduroy. Fans will recognize the distinctive scratchboard art style and amusing perspectives, all black-and-white here except for the bright red splash of a wool scarf. The story begins when Earl the Squirrel's mother says, "It is high time you went out and learned how to find acorns on your own." Earl runs off to solicit the help of his human friend Jill who gives him not only an acorn but also a nutcracker-and later, the aforementioned scarf. Earl's mother is understandably horrified: "Earl, come in here this instant! I want to speak with you!" She deems him the world's most spoiled squirrel, and sends him scampering to prove himself. Along the way, Earl encounters a great horned owl, a bull named Conrad and a giant oak tree bursting with acorns, enough to make any mother squirrel proud. Preschoolers will love Earl's stumbling-but-steady journey towards independence, as nothing tastes as sweet as the first acorn a child procures on his or her own. (Picture book. 3-6)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781430104148
  • Publisher: Live Oak Media
  • Publication date: 6/30/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 1
  • Age range: 4 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.80 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Don Freeman was born in San Diego, California, in 1908. At an early age, he received a trumpet as a gift from his father. He practiced obsessively and eventually joined a California dance band. After graduating from high school, he ventured to New York City to study art under the tutelage of Joan Sloan and Harry Wickey at the Art Students' League. He managed to support himself throughout his schooling by playing his trumpet evenings, in nightclubs and at weddings.

Gradually, he eased into making a living sketching impressions of Broadway shows for The New York Times and The Herald Tribune. This shift was helped along, in no small part, by a rather heartbreaking incident: he lost his trumpet. One evening, he was so engrossed in sketching people on the subway, he simply forgot it was sitting on the seat beside him. This new career turned out to be a near-perfect fit for Don, though, as he had always loved the theater.

He was introduced to the world of children’s literature when William Saroyan asked him to illustrate several books. Soon after, he began to write and illustrate his own books, a career he settled into comfortably and happily. Through his writing, he was able to create his own theater: "I love the flow of turning the pages, the suspense of what's next. Ideas just come at me and after me. It's all so natural. I work all the time, long into the night, and it's such a pleasure. I don't know when the time ends. I've never been happier in my life!"

Don died in 1978, after a long and successful career. He created many beloved characters in his lifetime, perhaps the most beloved among them a stuffed, overall-wearing bear named Corduroy.

Don Freeman was the author and illustrator of many popular books for children, including Corduroy, A Pocket for Corduroy, and the Caldecott Honor Book Fly High, Fly Low.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2005


    Countless fans who enjoyed the classic Corduroy books by Caldecott Honoree Don Freeman know that youngsters will be equally attracted to Earl the Squirrel. Freeman's illustrations are as fresh and appealing as ever in this story of the little squirrel whose mother said, 'Earl, It is high time you went out and learned to find acorns on your own.' Earl agreed with his mother and he wanted to make her proud of him, but he didn't have the faintest idea where he was going to find any acorns. He immediately ran over to see Jill. She's a good friend who gifted him with a large acorn and a nutcracker. When Earl returned to his tree home proudly bearing the acorn and nutcracker his mother was not at all impressed. She guessed that Jill had given these things to him, and told him how ridiculous it was for a squirrel to have a nutcracker. She ordered him to take that nutcracker right back. Always generous, Jill had another gift for him - a bright red scarf to keep his ears warm. He zoomed home as fast as he could to show his mother his new scarf. Again, she was sorely disappointed to think that any furry self-respecting squirrel would need a scarf to keep him warm. Poor Earl, it seems that he can't do anything to please his mother - least of all find acorns. He spent the entire cold night searching for acorns. Finally, exhausted he sought refuge in a hollow tree only to be chased off by an angry owl. However, the owl did tell him the location of a huge acorn tree. Earl sped off and was so excited to find the tree full of acorns that he didn't notice the enormous bull snoozing beneath it. Well, you know what happens when bulls see red! All's well that ends well in this cheery story of a little squirrel who must learn how to get along in the world. - Gail Cooke

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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