Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Learning | Nuts to You

Let me be clear about this; I am not trying to insult you, or anybody else.  I'm excited, because I just read an entertaining story about squirrels, and I would like to tell you about it. The name of the book is Nuts to You.

Nuts to You is by Lynne Rae Perkins. You may have read her Newbery Medal-winning book, Criss Cross. The main characters in this book are four squirrels. Not just any four squirrels--squirrels who are brave, loyal to their friends, philosophers and problem solvers.

Squiggy the Squirrel (the star of Explore)
from Kenny P's photostream on
Some rights reserved.

The story begins with what appears to be the end for Jed, a grey squirrel who is snatched up by a hawk. But he finds a clever way to distract that predatory bird, so that he can escape. 

The new problem is, he does not know where he has landed. Everything is unfamiliar. Even the squirrels look different; they are red, instead of grey. They talk funny, and they just do things differently than Jed and his friends.

Red squirrel,
from Drew McLellan's photostream on
Some rights reserved.

For instance, red squirrels eat pine cones--something Jed had never seen, because he lived in an area with different trees. 

Squirrel on a Mission, 
from Doug Brown's photostream on
Some rights reserved.

Jed's friend, TsTs, sees the hawk snatch him, and drop him in a far off place. She enlists another friend, Chai, to accompany her on the dangerous mission to go find Jed and bring him home.

So we have an interesting story here, but it's made even better by the way it is told.  

The main narrative is enhanced by the author's own illustrations; some of these are like comic book panels, with dialogue and commentary.

She also adds notes. These notes tell us additional things about the story, or random facts.  There's plenty of opportunity to learn here, even though this book is fiction. 

For example, when she says Jed "slipped like water* through the distracted hawk's talons," The asterisk on water indicates a note that says,"Thick water. Or perhaps like a non-Newtonian fluid. Look it up on YouTube."

Perkins has a knack for lyrical description, as you can see in the quote below.

Best Squirrel House at the University of Michigan (April 4, 2014)
from Corey Seeman's photostream at
Some rights reserved.
"Chai watched the object enter a solid bough the way a duck's foot enters water. But while water heals back up and is the same as before, the bough fell heavily to the ground. Thunk."--Nuts to You, p. 115. 

Nuts to You is written for middle graders, roughly from ages 8 to 12.  I also recommend it to anybody who enjoyed Kate DiCamillo's Newbery Medal-winning book, Flora and Ulysses.

No comments:

Post a Comment