Nuts by Kacy Cook, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Nuts

Nuts

4.0 3
by Kacy Cook
     
 

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An eleven-year-old girl cares for two orphaned squirrels

Overview

An eleven-year-old girl cares for two orphaned squirrels

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This heartfelt debut novel stars 11-year-old Nell, who finds two orphaned squirrels in her backyard and decides to care for them. Nell and her younger brothers are homeschooled, and her parents approve of the project, so long as she adheres to the guidelines proposed by Libby, a squirrel expert Nell locates online. Though Libby immediately advises Nell to contact a wildlife specialist, Nell resists because she doesn't want to give up the squirrels, which she has named Mantha and Sam: “The squirrels were special. They made me feel special.” Consumed by her new project, Nell deceives her parents regarding the guidance she is receiving from Libby, and continues to raise the creatures. Curiously, Nell's otherwise attentive parents never seem to do their own research or contact Libby themselves. Characters sometimes speak out of turn for their age—particularly Nell's crush, Russ, a nature lover and hunter who seems a bit too wise for a middle-schooler. However, Cook effectively demonstrates the lessons of nature—birth, growth, and death—and Nell's need to let go. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)
Booklist
Nell, a responsible 11-year-old, rescues an abandoned baby squirrel. With the tentative support of her parents, she cares for the animal, which she and her brothers name Samantha, or "Mantha." Then Nell rescues a second squirrel, and it soon becomes evident that she intends to keep the animals as pets, despite what she says to her parents and to an online squirrel specialist, who is acting as a long-distance mentor. The situation snowballs until nothing but full disclosure will put things right, for Nell as well as for Mantha. This earnest novel prompts readers to seriously consider animal welfare. The secondary characters provide a platform for the author to explore differing philosophies about respecting nature: Nell's new friend Russ feels that hunting is a way to be close to the natural world, providing opportunities for readers to respond and discuss. Nell is a well-meaning protagonist who sometimes thinks with her heart, sometimes with her gut, but eventually with her head. Fans of animal stories will most enjoy this debut novel.
Children's Literature - Kristin Bjork
Eleven-year-old Nell finds two baby squirrels that fell out of a tree and wants to raise them as pets. Nell and her two younger brothers are homeschooled, so it would be a great learning experience if only they can convince their parents to keep the squirrels. Their mother was easy to convince, but their father needed more convincing. Suddenly there are two squirrels living in the downstairs bathroom. Nell does her research on squirrels to make sure she properly cares for them. She knows at some point she will have to let the squirrels go free but is not looking forward to that day. Even though she and her brothers are careful to protect the squirrels, one ends up falling in the toilet and drowning. That is when Nell realizes she must let the other squirrel they have named Mantha go free. When Nell realizes Mantha can care for herself, she hopes she will come back and stay with the family. When that does not happen, Nell hopes Mantha is safe somewhere else. Nell realizes the squirrels helped change her life by teaching her to pay closer attention to what is going on around her. The characters are likeable and made me want a pet squirrel: if an eleven-year-old can raise a squirrel, anyone can. Reviewer: Kristin Bjork
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—Eleven-year-old Nell and her younger brothers, Jack and Charley, find two baby squirrels that have fallen out of their nest. Nell goes online to research how to care for them, and despite learning that she should take them to a wildlife rehabilitator, she convinces her parents to let the youngsters care for the babies at home, a feat made easier by the fact that they are homeschooled. Using the online advice, Nell is able to raise Mantha and Jess, all the while trying to convince her parents that they should be allowed to keep them as pets. As Nell's lies mount to cover up for the fact that it is illegal to have native wildlife in Ohio without a permit, animals die and people get hurt. The plot is heavy with educational information that slows the pacing and makes it preachy and didactic. Even an afternoon outing at a baseball game with friends turns into a science lesson as the kids discuss what type of animal their team, the Bearcats, represents, making the conversation stilted and forced. Nell's first-person narrative lets readers know what she is thinking, but the rest of the characterization is superficial. Children who are able to stick with the story will gain a new appreciation for the wildlife in their backyards, but most readers won't get that far.—Kristine M. Casper, Huntington Public Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews
Nell, a precocious 11-year-old homeschooler living in Ohio, has her world rocked when she attempts to rescue two abandoned baby squirrels. Her caring parents have their doubts, but the ever-enterprising Nell educates herself from a website. She promises to take meticulous care of them until they can be released but eventually becomes so attached that she disregards what the website squirrel-expert tells her-that she should turn their care over to a wildlife rehabilitator for both legal and safety reasons. Nell lies to both her parents and the expert in order to keep them and ends up learning some harsh lessons. Cook does a nice job of taking a seemingly innocent plot and almost sneaking in (a little like pureed vegetables) much weightier themes of love, honesty and death. This smartly mirrors Nell's journey; she never knew she'd learn so much about life while trying to raise two baby squirrels. The straightforward, upbeat prose consistently engages readers, and her characters are dead on. There's more here than meets the eye. (Fiction. 8-12)
Kara Dean
Nell, a responsible 11-year-old, rescues an abandoned baby squirrel. With the tentative support of her parents, she cares for the animal, which she and her brothers name Samantha, or “Mantha.” Then Nell rescues a second squirrel, and it soon becomes evident that she intends to keep the animals as pets, despite what she says to her parents and to an online squirrel specialist, who is acting as a long-distance mentor. The situation snowballs until nothing but full disclosure will...

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780761456520
Publisher:
Amazon Childrens Publishing
Publication date:
04/01/2010
Pages:
160
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)
Lexile:
690L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Kacy Cook was born in Columbus, Ohio, the second of six children. Her father was a federal agent, and her mother was an artist and dress designer. Kacy now lives in Columbus and has three children of her own, Leah, Jacob, and Ben. She also has three cats. Kacy enjoys nature, children’s literature, and contemporary politics. Visit her online at: www.kacycook.net

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