Children's LiteratureIn this short picture book, youngsters will follow the life cycle of the gray squirrel from its birth in spring, through the growing up in summer, to the nut gathering autumn, and finally through to the cold, cold winter. Many fascinating squirrel facts are presented throughout, accompanied by delightful illustrations done primarily in muted shades of brown, gray, and green. The spread about the many ways squirrels use their tails is wonderful, especially the picture of the tail bushed out as a parachute as the squirrel is in the midst of a mid-air tumble. Following the story is a page of questions and answers with more interesting squirrel facts. The problem with this book is it is a bit uneven. It starts as a simple prose story, but on about the fifth page of text, it starts to rhyme for a page or two, reverts to prose, then begins rhyming again a few pages later. Unfortunately this mixture of rhyme with prose is distracting, since when reading rhyme the reader begins to establish a poetic rhythm with the words. That rhythm is not carried through in the prose sections, causing the reader to stumble a bit. The book would have been much more effective if it had stuck strictly to a prose presentation. 2006, Millbrook Press, Ages 6 to 8.