Ernst's ( Walter's Tail ) latest picture book scores a victory for conservationists, nonconformists--and rodents everywhere. Stuart, son of Springdale's resident architect and developer, is at odds with his father's ``out with the old, in with the new'' philosophy, especially when it means cutting down the ancient oak tree in the center of town. Stuart's friend Chuck, a squirrel who lives in the beloved tree, stands behind the boy 100% and helps father and son reach a compromise that pleases the entire community. Tolerance and consideration prevail as Stuart's father learns to loosen up and see the forest for the trees, so to speak. Ernst simplifies the debate by presenting a dilemma in black and white terms, though her message manages to avoid preachiness or predictability. Black line and pastel illustrations possess lots of verve, even when some scenes are short on action. The artwork's precise delineation and earthy palette convey a humor and upbeat mood that never digresses into cartoony silliness. Ages 3-7. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3-- Fans of Ernst's When Bluebell Sang (Bradbury, 1989) will surely enjoy Stuart Ivey and Chuck (a squirrel) as they take on the boy's domineering architect father. At Mr. Ivey's request, Stuart and his furry friend design a lovely park with curving paths, playgrounds, and flowers, with a majestic oak tree (Chuck's home) as its centerpiece. The man arrives with a T-square and triangle to show them that straight paths are better, even though they go right through the tree. Only Chuck's quick thinking and sharp teeth avert disaster before the town meeting. This pleasant cautionary tale should be well received and, even though its message may seem a bit heavy handed, it is timely. The cartoon illustrations rendered in pastels, ink, and pencil support the text quite nicely. A good read-aloud choice with many possible applications, Squirrel Park will also satisfy thoughtful, nature-loving independent readers. --Jody McCoy, Casady School, Oklahoma City
When an ancient oak tree in the center of town is threatened by an architect's plan to design a new city park along strict geometric lines, a boy and a squirrel come to the rescue. Stuart, son of the misguided architect, and his devoted friend Chuck, a squirrel who lives in the tree, team up to save the tree and its surrounding parkland. While the story is routine, the energy and personality of the artwork make this, like Ernst's "When Bluebell Sang" , another lovable picture book. Varied in composition and perspective, and sensitive in use of color, the illustrations clearly convey character and move the plot along to its satisfying and inevitable conclusion.