Ol' Mama Squirrel



Fierce squirrel mom keeps babies safe, keeps laughs coming.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Shows that squirrels live in trees and mothers will risk their own lives to protect their young. As Mama Squirrel cautions, "There's no shortage of creatures that would love to snack on a baby squirrel."

Positive messages

A mother will do anything, even risk her own life in facing a much larger, stronger opponent, to save her children.

Positive role models

Mama Squirrel is fierce, fearless, strong, resourceful, loving, and will do anything to protect her babies. The other mother squirrels pitch in to help Mama Squirrel defeat the grizzly bear.

Violence & scariness

Squirrels throw nuts on a grizzly bear's head to get him to go away. Mama Squirrel shakes her fist in anger at intruders and yells, "Chook, chook, chook!"

Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Ol' Mama Squirel is a funny picture book by David Ezra Stein, author-illustrator of the 2011 Caldeott Honor Book Interrupting Chicken. It shows a fierce mother squirrel in the city protecting her babies in their tree, and involves cartoonish violence of squirrels dive-bombing and throwing nuts at intruders, scolding humans and animals by yelling, "Chook, chook, chook!"  It's a great, offbeat choice for Mother's Day, and fun for kids all year round. 

Parents say

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What's the story?

Ol' MAMA SQUIRREL has lots of babies and guards them closely in her tree in the city. She scolds anyone (cats, dogs, owls, tree pruners) or anything (kites, airplanes) that comes near her tree, shaking her fist and shouting out a stern "Chook, chook, chook!" Then a grizzly bear comes and threatens to eat her "whole family tree." "Not on my watch, buster!" she replies. More than a hundred mama squirrels join her to send him packing, yelling "Chook, chook, chook!" and throwing nuts at him till he flees.

Is it any good?


Kids will love the action and funny expressions and body language of fist-shaking, scowling, scolding Ol' Mama and her kids and friends, who band together to defeat much larger, stronger opponents. The violence (nut throwing) is cartoonish and playful, accompanied by sounds like "PLONK!"

Bold black outlines and soft watercolors capture every nuance of expression and emotion, from rage to fear to glee to pride in Mama Squirrel's great accomplishment in ridding the city of a grizzly bear. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how animals protect their young at all costs. Have you hear stories about how campers have to take care to avoid bears looking for food for their cubs? 

  • Why do you think animal stories are so popular with kids? What are some of your favorites? 

  • Have you ever seen an animal defend its young or its home? 

Book details

Author:David Ezra Stein
Illustrator:David Ezra Stein
Genre:Picture Book
Topics:Misfits and underdogs, Science and nature, Wild animals
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Nancy Paulsen Books
Publication date:March 21, 2013
Number of pages:32
Publisher's recommended age(s):3 - 5
Read aloud:3 - 5
Read alone:6 - 7
Available on:Nook, Hardback, Kindle

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 13 years old Written byBOBBYMCJOJO June 9, 2013

ol mama squirrel is FREAKY

flippin scary
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing


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