Our new neighbour
turned up one day
I don’t know where
he came from, but I knew
just by looking at him…
He was TROUBLE.
Squirrel appears to live a happy quiet life with her pet mouse, Chamomile. She loves tea and to spend her free time gardening and practicing yoga. One day, her quiet life is disrupted when a new neighbour, a bear, moves in next door. He is big and scary looking, and Squirrel decides that he is trouble with a capital ‘T’. Squirrel does not trust the bear because of his terrible teeth and claws, the way he dresses and destroys things, or so she thought. She does everything she can to avoid him.
When readers see the illustrations, they can see that, in fact, the new neighbour is actually friendly. He likes to knit and bake, and he isn’t scary at all. But Squirrel does not know this, and she is quick to judge. One day while on an outing, Squirrel thought the troublesome bear tried to attack Chamomile. That was the last straw! Squirrel decides to move and pack up all her belongings. As she was ready to go, she went to get Chamomile but couldn't find her pet. Then, from the other side of the wall, she heard Chamomile ‘meow.’ Squirrel jumped to the conclusion that her terrible neighbour was saving Chamomile for a snack. Squirrel burst into her neighbour’s house, ready to save Chamomile, only to find Chamomile happily playing with some yarn while her neighbour sat quietly knitting. Squirrel realized she was being the troublesome neighbour all this time. She offered her neighbour an apology and some tea. The bear offered some cookies. Despite their differences, the two turned out to be the perfect pair.
Trouble is a great story for opening the conversation with young children about not being too quick to judge others based on appearance alone. The plot is simple, and the bright and fun illustrations show how Squirrel’s feelings toward her new neighbour do not reflect the bear’s actual actions. Readers will be able to connect with the everyday objects and activities, such as the colourful teapots and delicious looking cookies, while also understanding the differences described between the bear and Squirrel. Battersby shares a heartfelt message about making friends in a fun way that young readers will enjoy.
Julia Pitre is a Children’s Librarian with London Public Library in London, Ontario.