cover image Will and Squill

Will and Squill

Emma Chichester Clark, . . Lerner/Carolrhoda, $15.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-57505-936-5

The title characters are best friends who don't care a whit that one of them is a boy and the other is a squirrel. The two meet when they are quite little, and their respective parents are aghast ("awful dirty squirrel!" says Will's mother, while Squill's squirrel mother tsks, "awful dirty baby!"). Yet the two grow up together: "With Squill, Will took his first steps." They swing through trees, play soccer and have covert sleepovers. The friendship is sorely tested when Will's parents buy him a kitten, but the duo's bond is soon repaired, with the help of Will's next-door neighbor. Clark's (No More Kissing! ) simple, crisp pictures are often slyly funny: in parallel scenes, Will's mother measures how much he's grown by marking his height on a door, while Squill's mother does the same for her son on a tree trunk. Squill's wiry frame, bushy tale and eager eyes signal that he's game for anything. Unfortunately, the text crosses the line from sweet to saccharine whenever Will and Squill enter into a dialogue (e.g., " 'Squill will if Will will!' 'Will will if Squill will!' "). But as Clark's lighthearted pictures prove on page after page, Will and Squill share an instinct for fun that transcends words. Ages 4-8. (Feb.)