A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Trubble Town's cartoon characters are by no means exemplary, but readers might learn a little about what people do in various jobs, such as mayor, sherriff, and judge. Other fun facts include what squirrels eat, where moles live, and what dynamite does. The author’s playfulness with spelling and grammar might help kids have fun with words, too.
The smallest thing you do can have big consequences.
Positive Role Models
Wendy the Wanderer is a responsible girl who knows she should face consequences for her actions. She is also a loyal friend to Squirrely and does not want him to be punished for crimes he didn't commit.
Some of the roughly drawn people have brown skin, while others are colored in with lighter shades. So it looks like there are Black people and White people in Trubble Town.
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Violence & Scariness
Several buildings in town explode, seemingly randomly. One building is the sherriff's grandma's house; she's hurled through the air and lands on top of a house shaped like a giant donut, which is soft enough to break her fall. Two townspeople hit a man over the head to steal his donuts. A man falls to his death because his pockets are so full of gold that a wooden bridge breaks under his weight. Another man drops dead because he can't mentally process the absurdity of a situation.
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Products & Purchases
Product and business names in Trubble Town are fictional.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
No alcohol, drugs, or smoking is represented.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Squirrel Do Bad is the first volume in the Trubble Town graphic novel series by author/cartoonist Stephan Pastis. Pastis is the writer/illustrator of the Timmy Failure book series and and the popular Pearls Before Swine comic strip, and Trubble Town includes wacky animals that bear a resemblance to the Pearls Before Swine characters. The main character in Squirrel Do Bad is Wendy the Wanderer, a little girl who wants to see the world but whose overprotective father keeps her close to home. But when Wendy gets the opportunity to bust out, all kinds of trouble starts. This book has cartoon violence, including buildings exploding, a man getting hit over the head and robbed (of donuts), and a koala/judge falling to his death on a broken bridge. None of the violence is graphic; no blood is drawn, and death is represented by the character's face being shaded gray instead of their usual skin color. This silly and entertaining book also has some fun with spelling/word humor (Trubble, anyway vs. anyways, chapter numbers, etc.). Readers 8 and up can definitely laugh at the story, but it might be easier for advanced readers or those age 9 or 10 to understand all of Pastis' jokes.
Is It Any Good?
Stephan Pastis' funny new graphic novel employs familiar, enjoyable elements. As in his Timmy Failure books, there's amusing wordplay, cartoon violence, and a hapless misbehaving kid. And like Pearls Before Swine, Squrirel Do Bad is full of oddly hilarious, quirky, inexplicably resentful characters, like the sherriff who detests squirrels for no particular reason. This book is quite entertaining, with silly situations and a haywire plot. It will be particularly enjoyable for upper-grade readers who can get the most out of Pastis' word/spelling humor as well as the kooky plot and pictures.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.