cover image Girl Versus Squirrel

Girl Versus Squirrel

Hayley Barrett, illus. by Renee Andriani. Holiday House/Ferguson, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8234-4251-5

Pearl is trying to turn her backyard into a bird oasis, but a wily squirrel keeps outwitting her, swiping peanuts from a feeder that she has taken particular pride in creating (“It looked like a teacup/ because it was a teacup”). Pearl does her best to discourage the squirrel (and even admits there’s nothing like a worthy foe to get the creative juices flowing), and eventually constructs “a network of obstacles... each more squirrel-challenging than the last”—only to be outwitted in an amazing show of squirrelly dexterity and nimbleness. Her admiration only grows when she discovers that the squirrel is a mother trying to feed her babies. “I proclaim your victory,” she says, standing below the nest, “and I salute you, fearless, fluffy sister!” Cartooned illustrations by Andriani (Dudley’s Day at Home) are loads of fun, capturing this backyard battle of wills from every angle. The real star, however, is the luscious text by Barrett (Babymoon), redolent with rousing G-rated expletives and rollicking proclamations that feel almost Shakespearean. “Drat, drat, drat,” Pearl declaims before making peace with her adversary. “You’re a bird-feeder-crashing, teacup-smashing, peanut-poaching pest!” Ages 4–8. [em]Author’s agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary. Illustrator’s agency: Studio Goodwin Sturges. (June) [/em]