A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- Happy birthday Carol Beach York (Good Charlotte).
- The first American novel, The Power of Sympathy by William Hill Brown, is printed in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1789.
- In 1977, President Jimmy Carter pardons nearly all American Vietnam War draft evaders, some of whom had emigrated to Canada. Read Summerâ€™s End by Audrey Couloumbus.
- Itâ€™s National Hugging Day. Read Hug by Jez Alborough, Hug Time by Patrick McDonald, Giant Hug by Sandra Horning, and Hugging the Rock by Susan Taylor Brown.
Today has been designated Squirrel Appreciation Day. Like many city dwellers, I donâ€™t appreciate squirrels. My dogs, Lady and Lancelot, basically believe that all squirrels deserve to be driven up trees. The squirrels in my back yard retaliate by making fun of these lumbering, large dogs.
I have liked these bushy-tailed creatures a great deal more since I read MĂ©lanie Wattâ€™s Scaredy Squirrel, published by Kids Can Press in 2006. As a young author, MĂ©lanie was told to put down on paper what she knew. In her case, she had been plagued by fears since childhood. Hence, she created an alter ego, a small squirrel who lives in a tree and is too afraid to set out from his home.
Even the endpapers of Scaredy Squirrel warn readers to clean their hands with antibacterial soap before opening the book. Scaredy Squirrel has so many things that make him afraidâ€”green Martians, killer bees, and even sharks. He spends time drawing out elaborate exit plans in case of a crisis and maintains a well-stocked emergency kit. Every day he does the same things, at the same time. Of course, a crisis happens, and suddenly all the plans fail to work. When heâ€™s forced to jump from the tree, he discovers that he is a flying squirrel and the pages fold out to show him in flight. Now he can add a little adventure to his daysâ€”although he still keeps to a schedule.
On the surface the book allows everyone to laugh at the antics of a small squirrel, trying to keep tragedy at bay. But, of course, human beings are all subject to rational and irrational fears, and in its gentle way Scaredy Squirrel allows children and adult readers to examine their own worst fears. In her authorâ€™s notes, Canadian author MĂ©lanie Watts lets people know that she shares a lot of traits with Scaredy Squirrelâ€”she herself is afraid of sharks.
The book naturally lends itself to activities with children. They can draw pictures of what they fear, map out an exit strategy from school or home, or plan an emergency kit for their own needs. Since its publication, children ages three to eight have absolutely loved this title. The book has won awards chosen by children, such as the Red Clover Award selected by the children of Vermont or the Monarch Award by young readers in Illinois. It has several superb sequels, including Scaredy Squirrel at Night and Scaredy Squirrel Has a Birthday Party. It is now in development in Canada as a television series.
Even if you donâ€™t want to appreciate squirrels today, you will definitely enjoy reading Scaredy Squirrel. As I look out in my backyard, I can see one of those squirrels taunting my dogs. Maybe we have a different species here; I prefer the Canadian version.
Hereâ€™s a page from Scaredy Squirrel:
Originally posted January 21, 2011. Updated for .