Nutmeg and Barley: A Budding Friendship

Overview

An exuberant squirrel and a shy mouse discover that reaching out to someone who's not like you may be challenging, but can yield some surprising rewards.

Halfway up an old pecan tree lives Nutmeg, a chatty red squirrel who loves bright sunshine, gossiping with friends, and most of all, dancing. Burrowing below in a hollow log is Barley, an unsociable gray mouse who prefers cool shade, playing solitaire, and most of all, relaxing at the end of the day with a little music. What ...

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Overview

An exuberant squirrel and a shy mouse discover that reaching out to someone who's not like you may be challenging, but can yield some surprising rewards.

Halfway up an old pecan tree lives Nutmeg, a chatty red squirrel who loves bright sunshine, gossiping with friends, and most of all, dancing. Burrowing below in a hollow log is Barley, an unsociable gray mouse who prefers cool shade, playing solitaire, and most of all, relaxing at the end of the day with a little music. What could these neighbors possibly have in common? Luckily, an unexpected development leads to an unlikely friendship in this charming story about bridging differences with kindness, thoughtfulness — and the help of a few lively tunes.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Nutmeg, a red squirrel in a pearl necklace, loves "bright sunshine and loud thunderstorms. But most of all, she [loves] to dance to her favorite forest tune." Near Nutmeg's tree lives Barley, a quiet mouse who loves "cool shade and gentle breezes [and] . . . to relax with a little music." Nutmeg gossips with other squirrels while Barley plays solitaire, politely refusing her invitations to join them. "I suppose we don't have a thing in common anyway," thinks Nutmeg, but when she finds some sunflowers on her doorstep she knows Barley must have given them to her. Going to thank him, she hears him groaning through his window. "Do you need anything?" she asks. Barley replies that he would love some tea, which Nutmeg mishears as "Should leave me be!" Offended, she leaves. She tries to go about her normal routine, but with no music in the evenings she is deprived of her usual dancing. After a few days she knocks on Barley's door and finds him sick in bed. She nurses him back to health. The next morning Barley is better, and Nutmeg learns that he is the one who makes the music she has been missing. They realize they do have "a couple of things in common—a love for lively music and their heartfelt friendship." Younger readers might miss some of the subtleties; it is not obvious that Nutmeg does not know it is Barley's music she enjoys, an important plot point. The text is a bit too cute, but little kids will not mind. The full-color, full-page illustrations are charming; Nutmeg's feet, in particular, are satisfyingly squirrelly. 2006, Candlewick Press, Ages 2 to 5.
—Sara Lorimer
School Library Journal
PreS-Nutmeg is a squirrel who loves to chatter with her friends and dance; Barley is a mouse who likes to grow flowers and relax in solitude with music. But when he gets sick, the two discover that they can be good friends despite their differences--and even find something that they both like to do. In a few brief sentences, Bynum describes the beginning of what looks to be a beautiful friendship. Her charming watercolor-and-pastel illustrations of the two creatures going about their daily routines portray each personality beautifully and create a lovely oversize book for storytime or a cozy one-on-one read-aloud.-Judith Constantinides, formerly at East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The setting is Moosejaw County where two neighbors have nothing in common. Nutmeg is a vivacious red squirrel; she's loud, sociable and dances each night to evening music. Barley, a gray mouse, is contemplative, an avid gardener, solitaire player and sips his tea alone. He enjoys music for relaxation. In two words, they are the "odd couple" of animal land. Nutmeg finds a gift of flowers on her doorstep and visits Barley to thank him. She misunderstands his squeaky, sneezing voice and returns to her tree miserable for days. She visits again only to find Barley ill and feverish. In the switch to caregiver, Nutmeg also discovers the source of her dancing music and the key to learning how to get along with others. Bynum's lush watercolors are textured with soft pencil lines and pastels; she uses fall hues beginning with acorn and oak-leaf endpapers and abundant small details. The universal need for flexibility in successful relationships is the core of this simple colorful story. (Picture book. 3-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763623821
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 1/10/2006
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.67 (w) x 11.29 (h) x 0.37 (d)

Meet the Author

JANIE BYNUM is the author-illustrator of several books for children, including ALTOONA BABOONA. She says, "When I sat down to write Nutmeg and Barley, I was thinking about how opposites tend to attract. I also wanted to explore the consequences of miscommunication — so common in all types of relationships. Finally, and probably most important, Nutmeg and Barley is about how friends nurture each other — in spite of little tiffs or differences."
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2006

    A STORY OF THE MEANING OF FRIENDSHIP

    We do hear that opposites attract, but Nutmeg and Barley aren't at all sure about that. Nutmeg is one of the most chattering squirrels you'll ever see. A favorite pastime for Nutmeg is visiting with friends while perched in the branches of a tree. Barley is a quiet little mouse, a neighbor of Nutmeg's, who makes it obvious that he'd rather be alone. Solitaire is his game, and working in his garden his pleasure. Despite several invitations from Nutmeg he insists that he's either too busy or has something very important to do. Nutmeg decided to give up on him, thinking that they had absolutely nothing in common. However, when Nutmeg didn't see Barley for a day or two she became worried about him. When she went to his house she found him in bed, very ill. Well, the never-met-a-stranger squirrel turned into Florence Nightingale and nursed Barley back to health. When young readers find out what happens next they'll learn what a little kindness can do. Exuberant watercolor illustrations help to tell this story of the meaning of friendship. - Gail Cooke

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