Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep

So many squirrels dash about the cities and forests of North America, it's easy to stop noticing them. The author-illustrator team behind Vulture View and Eat Like a Bear opens readers' eyes to the day-to-day scamperings of these busy rodents in the engaging, rhyming picture book Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep. (Verdict: Squirrels are most adorable when they are asleep.)

The read-aloud rhymes of April Pulley Sayre (Honk, Honk, Goose!; Raindrops Roll) are pleasingly simple: "Squirrels wrestle./ Squirrels leap./ Squirrels climb./ Squirrels sleep." Complementing her crystal-clear descriptions, the clean, cut- and torn-page collage art of Caldecott Honor artist Steve Jenkins (What Do You Do with a Tail Like This?; Mama Built a Little Nest; My First Day; Egg) reflects nonstop squirrel activity in both round spot-art images and dramatic full-bleed spreads. (Watch out for that bird of prey, little guy!) While young readers are learning how important squirrel tails are for balance (or umbrellas), they are asked to consider the bright-eyed creatures more fully: "Squirrels chirp./ Squirrels drink./ Can you guess/ what squirrels think?" (Maybe they are thinking about all those delicious-looking acorns on the endpapers.)

Two spreads reveal an underground view of five buried acorns, then "Seedlings push/ up, up, and out!" The cycle is complete as squirrels climb the mighty oaks. Round and round it goes; the book's opening lines close it as well... a sweet, sleeping squirrel curls up in its nest. Four pages of notes in the back--"Squirrels and Their Trees"--serve up even more food for thought. Children may do a double-take next time a squirrel scampers by. --Karin Snelson, children's & YA editor, Shelf Awareness

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