Scaredy Squirrel in a Nutshell
Scaredy Squirrel in a Nutshell
As planned, Scaredy slides down the vacuum. Then he carefully lifts up the nozzle… and discovers something more terrifying than he had ever imagined…an adorable pom-pom tail!!! Catching a dust bunny was not part of the plan!
For readers who already enjoy Mélanie Watt’s “Scaredy Squirrel” series of picture books, her new graphic novel is a clear choice. Scaredy Orville Squirrel is back at it: staying in his tree, keeping things germ-free, and imaginatively listing all likely (and unlikely) hazards and trespassers. When a cleaning incident knocks all his nuts from his tree and an unexpected visitor offers help (and friendship), Scaredy is faced with a dilemma of whether to trust in this new friend or to remain vigilant, yet solo.
Watt’s illustrations are as vibrant as ever with her contrast of bold black outlining and the use of bright blues and greens and the occasional pop of orange. Scaredy’s familiar cartoon-like characterization is expressive and funny. However, it wasn’t immediately obvious to me that this book should be considered a graphic novel as compared to an extended picture book. The illustration layout is very similar to Watt’s other Scaredy Squirrel picture books, albeit the length of this book (with three chapters) is a little longer than the usual Scaredy Squirrel formula. Watt may have used a few more panels to give this book a slightly more graphic novel feel, but essentially, it’s very similar to the picture books.
Watt embeds lists, quizzes, labeled diagrams, and step-by-step instructions into the narrative of the text. This classic Scaredy Squirrel variety is part of the charm. The reading level is quite simple, and thus this graphic novel offers a great stepping stone for young readers from picture books to graphic novels; nevertheless, I could see this same association of the character with the picture book series may skew the appeal of this graphic novel series to only the younger reader crowd.
My five-year-old was thrilled at the prospect of reading a new Scaredy Squirrel adventure with me. For sure, Watt’s new graphic novel does not disappoint. But, it is just more of the same… and there’s nothing wrong with that. Give the readers what they want! Graphic novels are a hugely popular format with youth these days, so it is wise and savvy that Watt should grow her series alongside the readers who grew up with her picture books.
Librarians, teachers, and parents take note: this is a series to collect. Young readers will definitely be drawn to Watt’s new graphic novel, Scaredy Squirrel in a Nutshell, and I’m sure there are more to come!
Dorothea Wilson-Scorgie has completed her MLIS degree at the University of Alberta and her MA degree in Children’s Literature at the University of British Columbia. She is a member of the Victoria Children’s Literature Roundtable steering committee, works as a teacher-on-call, and resides in Victoria, British Columbia, with her husband and their two children.