cover image Squirrel Park

Squirrel Park

Lisa Campbell Ernst. Bradbury Press, $15.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-02-733562-0

Ernst's ( Walter's Tail ) latest picture book scores a victory for conservationists, nonconformists--and rodents everywhere. Stuart, son of Springdale's resident architect and developer, is at odds with his father's ``out with the old, in with the new'' philosophy, especially when it means cutting down the ancient oak tree in the center of town. Stuart's friend Chuck, a squirrel who lives in the beloved tree, stands behind the boy 100% and helps father and son reach a compromise that pleases the entire community. Tolerance and consideration prevail as Stuart's father learns to loosen up and see the forest for the trees, so to speak. Ernst simplifies the debate by presenting a dilemma in black and white terms, though her message manages to avoid preachiness or predictability. Black line and pastel illustrations possess lots of verve, even when some scenes are short on action. The artwork's precise delineation and earthy palette convey a humor and upbeat mood that never digresses into cartoony silliness. Ages 3-7. (Mar.)