cover image Trash Mountain

Trash Mountain

Jane Yolen, illus. by Chris Monroe. Carolrhoda, $16.99 (184p) ISBN 978-1-4677-1234-7

When an inquisitive red squirrel named Nutley summons the nerve to offer the "Paw of Friendship" to a group of nearby gray squirrels, they respond by tossing him off a cliff. Fearing for his life after the Grays subsequently kill his parents, Nutley escapes to a landfill, Trash Mountain, where he settles in among the rats and gulls. "It was said that the very earth of Trash Mountain was sullied and malodorous, which is another way of saying it stank," writes Yolen (Stone Angel) in one of several context-bringing sections titled "This You Should Know," which appear between chapters. A story of identity and survival develops into one of friendship, courage, and teamwork, culminating in a tense showdown between the Grays and the landfill residents. Yolen balances the story's more upsetting moments with humor (a good bit of it is delivered by Larie, a rude but loyal gull Nutley befriends), while Monroe's (Monkey with a Tool Belt) b&w illustrations%E2%80%94a mix of heavily inked scenes and wiry spot art%E2%80%94capture Nutley's affability and determination to survive. Ages 8%E2%80%9315. (Apr.)