Friday, September 23, 2011

SCAREDY SQUIRREL AT NIGHT



By Mélanie Watt

(Kids Can Press, 2009)

I am suspicious of picture book series. Can the brilliance of a first book and a charming, quirky character be repeated? Isn’t this just a case of an author/illustrator and a publisher milking something to death?

I am pleased to say that Mélanie Watt manages to make things familiar, yet fresh in Scaredy Squirrel at Night. Perhaps it was only natural that Scaredy Squirrel should become a series after his first eponymous book (reviewed earlier this week). After all, anyone afraid of tarantulas, poison ivy, green Martians, killer bees, germs and sharks is bound to have other worries. Imagine the creepy things that may terrorize in the dark, nightlight notwithstanding.

Turns out our beloved rodent does not sleep at all. The potential for bad dreams is too great. Closing one’s eyes could lead to visions of dragons, fairies, ghosts, unicorns, vampire bats and dreaded polka-dot monsters (which I’m guessing are at least ten times more frightening than ordinary striped or hairy monsters). When dreams are so fraught with fear, the sleep-deprived squirrel doesn’t react well when a horoscope says, “At midnight all your dreams will come true!”

Scaredy scrambles to put his action plan into effect and, once again, this does not go as planned.

While just a tad less fun than the original Scaredy Squirrel, this book remains a pleasure to read. It is interesting to see how Watt takes an established character and format and makes enough twists to cause the reader to think back to the original while enjoying the new adventure for its own clever merits. Despite referring to the dreaded polka-dot monsters, kids should sleep soundly even when this becomes a bedtime read.

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