Caldecott Honor winner David Ezra Stein’s lively tale is a fantastic read-aloud, and feisty Mama Squirrel will have fierce mamas everywhere applauding!
Ol’ Mama Squirrel has raised lots of babies, and she knows just how to protect them. Whenever trouble comes nosing around, she springs into action with a determined “Chook, chook, chook!” and scares trouble away. Her bravery is put to the test, however, when a really big threat wanders into town and onto her tree. But no matter what, Mama’s not about to back down!
As he did in Interrupting Chicken and Pouch!, Stein again shows his skill at finding laughs in commonplace situations. Ol’ Mama Squirrel keeps her squirrel children safe from a variety of intruders (cats, owls, repairmen) with a combination of noise, bluff, and bloody-minded indignation. When a dog threatens, she “clattered in the high branches. chook chook chook! She chattered in the low branches. chook chook chook! She scrabbled right side up and upside down while she scolded that dog.” Stein’s all-too-real vignettes of the angry squirrel’s arched eyebrows and waving fists are funny all by themselves, and when a sneering grizzly bear shows up and the suspense builds, Ol’ Mama Squirrel doesn’t flinch. The book gallops along without pausing for breath, and there’s something deeply gratifying about the story of a mother whose perfect confidence assures that her children will always be safe. Yet Stein makes it possible to sympathize with the victims, too: “They must put crazy powder in the nuts around here!” says the dog she’s chased off. A rousing and rowdy readaloud. Ages 3–5. Agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Mar.)
The Horn Book
“Lively, loose, gestural drawings. . . . Human parents will admire [Mama’s] singleness of purpose, and youngsters will chuckle at the way she challenges danger with a familiar wag of a finger, raised eyebrow, and fierce hands-on-hips stance that lets us all know, ‘And that takes care of that!’”
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“An amusing ode to the strength of maternal love and an affectionate depiction of the small but sassy squirrel, and mamas everywhere will appreciate Ol' Mama Squirrel's of motherly protection. Kids will be tickled by Ol' Mama Squirrel's equal-opportunity scolding. . . . Young listeners will also enjoy chiming in on repeated phrases. . . . The boxy-shaped squirrels are both adorable and comical. . . . Stein is particularly gifted at creating effective and funny compositions. . . . You'd be off your nut if you squirreled this title away . . . share it aloud for some giggles and grins.”
- Kim Harris Thacker
The author of the Caldecott honor-winning picture book Interrupting Chicken is at it again with a tale of a fierce mama squirrel who defends her young from anything that ventures too close to her beloved tree. She scolds cats, owls, kites, airplanes, and even the unfortunate tree pruner. But the minute a grizzly bear wanders into town and makes itself at home in her tree, it is abundantly clear that Mama Squirrel has met her match. When acting alone, no amount of nut throwing or scolding can frighten the grizzly; so Mama Squirrel rounds up her extended family, which, in true squirrel fashion, eagerly joins in the action. Together, they quickly drive the fearsome grizzly away from Mama and her babies. Readers of all ages will enjoy the delightful illustrations of sassy Mama Squirrel and her family, friends, foes, and environment. They will revel in the tiny squirrels' success over the big, bullying bear, and they will appreciate the subtle messages about sticking together for a good cause and protecting those you love from danger, both predictable and—especially—unexpected. Reviewer: Kim Harris Thacker
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—An overly protective mother squirrel shelters her babies from all types of intruders, including a niggling cat and a nosy, sniffing dog. She also scolds kites and waves her paws at airplanes flying overhead. Clattering "chook chook chook" in high and low branches, she sends gullible intruders on their way with great dispatch. Then one day a great, growling grizzly bear climbs into their safe haven. Mama Squirrel pelts him with nuts and takes her "chook chook chook" sound alarm to the next level. "Not on my watch!" she howls. Hundreds of mama squirrels come out of the woodwork, scolding the bear and throwing nuts at him. After he flees the scene, the townsfolk honor Ol' Mama Squirrel by constructing a plaque on the spot where she scolded the grizzly. "If you're ever in town, you should go see it…if you can get anywhere near it." Stein's expressive watercolor and ink illustrations fill each spread. Zany, blocklike animals are drawn with animated gestures, drawing readers into the humorous, but caring subject of a mother's love. Storytellers will find themselves animating Mama's frantic gestures and youngsters will enjoy the short, fast-paced passages on each page.—Krista Welz, The North Bergen Public Library, NJ
Don't let her size fool you: Ol' Mama Squirrel is as fierce as any lioness when it comes to protecting her young. Nestled in the safety of a tree hollow, Mama's babies are safe and sound as she fends off any perceived threats to their well-being. "Chook chook chook!" she scolds when a kite, a dog, an airplane or even an arborist come too close. She seems to meet her match, however, when a fearsome bear is undeterred by her scolding and even withstands being pelted by her hoard of acorns. "I'll eat your whole family tree," he threatens in a brilliant spread with an aerial view showing the bear trying to climb the tree to reach the squirrels' nest. "Not on my watch, buster!" Ol' Mama Squirrel declares, and then she calls to all of the area squirrels, who add their own scolding voices to hers in a scene reminiscent of the little fishes' triumph in Leo Lionni's Swimmy (1963). It takes a village, as the ol' saying goes. Kids will go nuts for this title--and in a metafictive turn, one can only imagine that Stein's Little Chicken from his Caldecott Honor–winning Interrupting Chicken (2010) would love it, too, given its focus on keeping little ones safe. This effervescent tale brims with humor and vibrant characterization. (Picture book. 3-7)
David Ezra Stein (www.davidezra.com) received a Caldecott Honor for Interrupting Chicken and the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award for Leaves, which was also a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, a Kirkus Reviews Editor’s Choice and a School Library Journal Best Book. He also wrote and illustrated Love, Mouserella, Pouch!, The Nice Book andMonster Hug! He lives in Kew Gardens, New York.