What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Newbery award winner Lynne Rae Perkins is in fine form with Nuts to You, the saga of four intrepid young squirrels trying to save their friends and family from being destroyed along with their homes -- because humans with chain saws are cutting back the trees that have grown up around the power lines (which the squirrels use for a handy highway). The fast-moving plot (which has a tendency to solve problems quickly and go on to the next issue) and the author's frequent cute, clever illustrations will lure even reluctant readers and make this not just a great read-aloud choice but also something older kids will love reading to younger ones. Heads up that some of the gross-out humor and squirrel curses (for example, the practice of hoping someone falls into a pile of sick-owl barf) may be so irresistible to some kids that they become part of daily conversation. Another heads up: One band of squirrels speaks a rustic English dialect that may bewilder younger kids.
What's the story?
NUTS TO YOU (a common friendly greeting among squirrels) seems destined to end before it begins, as a bright young squirrel named Jed is happily minding his own business when a hawk grabs him. But, thanks to a clever squirrel martial art known as Hai Tchree (one of many wordplays that will give kids the giggles), Jed makes his escape, and soon, with friends TsTs, Chai, and Tchke, discovers a dire peril that threatens their homes. The friends try to make their way home to warn their neighbors and have many adventures along the way.
Is it any good?
There's plenty here for little kids, big kids, and their parents to love. Author Lynne Rae Perkins effortlessly hooks the reader in the unfolding adventure, offering a number of clever asides and puns to crack up older readers and hilarious situations that will do the same for little ones. Her cute, clever illustrations are plentiful and bring the story to life for those who aren't quite reading yet -- and have lots of interesting detail, such as the side discussion of how a wolf's friends think he's a great guy, but squirrels, not so much.
As the brave young squirrels face many perils, readers will acquire interesting tidbits of scientific knowledge, such as the existence of a bird called the hairy woodpecker and the fact that it's an evolutionary advantage for plant seeds to have burrs that stick to animal fur.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about stories with animal characters. What's the appeal? Are stories with animal characters different from stories with human characters? If so, how?
Suppose you knew your neighborhood was about to be destroyed. What would you do? Would you help your neighbors escape, run away, or do something else?
Many times characters have trouble figuring out what's going on because they don't really understand what they're seeing. Have you ever seen something happening and had no idea what it meant? What did you do?