Scaredy Squirrel has a Birthday Party by Melanie Watt

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Scaredy Squirrel has a Birthday Party by Melanie Watt

Category: For Sharing
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Kerry King
Reviewed by Kerry King
Summary: In this fifth outing, Scaredy Squirrel is planning a birthday party - for one. That way there can be no nasty surprises in the form of spiny porcupines, party-crashing Bigfoot or unfunny clownfish! But when Scaredy gets a card from a friend he decides that he might just have room for a guest after all.
Buy? No Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 32 Date: September 2011
Publisher: Catnip Publishing
ISBN: 978-1846471346

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Scaredy Squirrel is planning a birthday party - his own - but he's not a very brave squirrel and thinks that the safest thing to do for his party will be to celebrate, by himself, in his tree. Very safe. Very far away from any possible danger, like ants or Bigfoot or confetti. Very far away indeed from unfunny clownfish, ponies and porcupines. But then Scaredy's friend Buddy sends him a lovely birthday card and all of the plans for the party have to change.

Right. So, Scaredy himself is an appealing little chap with his little ears and big please like me smile. He's nervous and twitchy and reminds me a lot of that squirrel in Over The Hedge (that little guy never fails to make me smile) and Scaredy looks just like a little doll in his party tuxedo. Cute. As. A. Button.

However, this is where my affection ends because what I was expecting was a formulaic, toddler-friendly story about how a nervous little rodent overcomes his fears, learns the value of taking control of a situation and how being brave can be a rewarding experience.

Well, I did get that, but not immediately. In fact I got it only after scouring each busy, crammed page, intently, for the story part (you know, the story - that stuff that's written in a block that describes what is happening with the illustrations?) but I had to work at it by running through its board game layout. Which, at 7 o'clock at night, after a long day in the office, a fight over five more minutes in the bath and a full scale NATO incursion involving short or long sleeved pyjamas and whether or not they have the character du jour on them, let's just say it was not the best pick for an overtired parent – er, I mean, four year old.

Now I am prepared to take the responsibility for the timing error in selecting this tale for bedtime because whilst it was far too stimulating for a pre-sleep read, it's actually a rather engaging story, packed with hectic diagrams like the Birthday Party Checklist and Nutty Cake Recipe and with busily placed words explaining what's going on in the story (they are sort of part of the picture if you get my meaning, much in the same way as a comic or child's magazine) which makes it ideal for a rainy afternoon where you and your little one can sit down on the couch, together, and work your way through the book. Literally… like a workbook. And that all by itself is hugely entertaining as we later discovered on our second foray into the world of Scaredy Squirrel.

Just prior to writing this review, I thought I would have a dig about with regard to the author and it was no surprise to learn that Watts trained as a graphic artist. Penny. Drops.

And so the book is full of icons and charts and time-tables depicting the almost military scale of planning Scaredy gets into so as to avoid any nasty surprises. To summarise, I shall somewhat broadly recommend this book – it's a best seller and who am I to argue with that? – but I could only recommend it on the basis that it's a rainy day time-killer kind of book that requires input and involvement from both parent and child - because my 4 year old can't read and all of the diagrams and charts require explanation.

I would like to recommend it because it's a fun book that really does teach your kids it's good to talk about the things that worry you, but I'm not sure that part was as clear as it could have been, given the graphic novel layout.

I'm not sure this book is for everyone, certainly I'd hesitate to give it to the under 5's and on that basis I am struggling to recommend something similar in what I would consider to be a young persons first graphic novel style of kids' book like this one.

Personally, I prefer the rhyming verse kind of story – The Gruffalo and How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? by Jane Yolen are good examples and are top of the class in our house. And I've know I've said it before, but we like pretty much any Winnie the Witch adventure, though the latest Winnie Under the Sea or The Misadventures of Winnie the Witch by Laura Owen and Korky Paul are terrific fun.

We also have a huge squishy soft spot for Can't You Sleep, Little Bear? by Martin Waddell and Barbara Firth because it's beautiful and you fall utterly in love with the Little Bear and totally feel for Big Bear and his attempts to get Little Bear to go to sleep.

Lastly, we at Bookbag would like to extend our thanks to the generous boys and girls at Catnip Publishing for sending us this copy to review.

Buy Scaredy Squirrel has a Birthday Party by Melanie Watt at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Scaredy Squirrel has a Birthday Party by Melanie Watt at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Scaredy Squirrel has a Birthday Party by Melanie Watt at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Scaredy Squirrel has a Birthday Party by Melanie Watt at Amazon.com.


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