Scaredy Squirrel at Night by Melanie Watt

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Scaredy Squirrel at Night by Melanie Watt

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: This looks, deceptively, like a book for toddlers but is better suited to older (7-8 year olds), especially if they tend to worry a lot and get scared at bedtime.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: October 2010
Publisher: Catnip
ISBN: 978-1846471100

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Scaredy Squirrel is scared to go to sleep at night. He has all sorts of tricks to keep himself awake so that he doesn't have to face his night-time fears. But his sleeplessness is having a toll on his health. Can he find a solution to his problem?

Because of the cute, cartoon-like squirrel on the front of this book (and his glow in the dark teeth!) I tried, initially, to read it out loud with my four year old daughter. It really didn't work. A lot of the story is made up of lists - lists of things that Scaredy Squirrel is scared of, lists of what he does to stay awake, lists of the effects of sleeplessness. This means the book doesn't flow very well since it doesn't really have a linear storyline, and I instantly crossed it off my 'books to read aloud at playgroup' list as the kids would never follow it. The humour is on a higher level than I think most pre-schoolers can understand, or at least, with my questioning little one it seemed to involve far too much explanation in order for it to make sense to her. I think having to explain some words or ideas in a story is definitely a good thing, but if the crux of the story is lost amongst the explanations then something is going wrong.

However, if you sat down to share this with an older child, or perhaps left them to read it to themselves, then the book would work much better. A lot of the fun comes from the illustrations which are clear and quirky. I enjoyed the book more when I read it by myself! I found then that I appreciated the pictures much more, and the humour they add to the book, as well as enjoying the full page pictures that are more detailed, with lots of little things to look at. Still, this is only a very short picture book, so I don't know how appealing it would be to an eight year old.

Nervous parents needn't worry that further fears will be added to their sleepless child's list - Scaredy Squirrles list of bad dream characters does include ghosts but also has things like unicorns, fairies and polka dot monsters in. Scaredy Squirrel is portrayed as something of a worry-wort, obsessively cataloguing his fears, making lists about how to deal with the situation, equipment he'll need to fight his fears etc. and when he finally does fall asleep of course nothing bad happens to him, he just sleeps deeply and wakes refreshed. The things he fears most turn out to be all in his imagination and I can imagine it would be a good book to read with a child who was having issues with nightmares, and would provide a humourous platform from which to discuss what was troubling them.

There was a moment in the book that I didn't like. There is a full page listing of horoscopes. They are written to be humorous, for example Gemini's says Two heads are always better than one! and Cancer's says Claw your way to success! Scaredy Squirrel reads his horoscope and it says Get ready. At midnight all your dreams will come true! which of course has him panicking that all his night time fears will be realised. When I read this to my daughter I actually skipped all the other horoscopes, or an explanation of what it was he was reading, and just read the message that sparks his fear. I didn't feel it was appropriate to introduce her to astrology, however humorous, at such a young age and I have a feeling some other parents might have an issue with it. Scaredy Squirrels superstitious beliefs do get ridiculed a little, as at the end of the book he decides to replace his horoscopes with something much more trustworthy - a fortune cookie! But even so, I felt they were inappropriate.

I think you need to be aware of the understanding level for this book. If you know your little one will just enjoy the funny pictures of the squirrel then all well and good, but really it needs an older child's comprehension levels to really work. Or it's just one of those books that's enjoyed more by the parents than by the children!

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion: If you need a good book to help with scary bedtimes then try Bookbag's Top Ten Picture Books For Overcoming Bedtime Woes.

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Buy Scaredy Squirrel at Night by Melanie Watt at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Scaredy Squirrel at Night by Melanie Watt at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Scaredy Squirrel at Night by Melanie Watt at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Scaredy Squirrel at Night by Melanie Watt at


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