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*Squirrelly Gray* by James Kochalka
Squirrelly Gray
by James Kochalka
Ages 4-8 40 pages Random House August 2007 Hardcover    

Squirrelly Gray is a solitary squirrel. He lives by himself in a tree where his only furnishings are a bed, a table, and a broken TV. No wonder his story starts "once upon a boring time."

Times get a little more exciting for Squirrelly Gray after he wiggles his two front teeth right out of his mouth. This leads to a tooth fairy in need of rescue and a magic acorn that needs to be cracked. But before he can figure out how to release the magic from inside the acorn, Squirrelly Gray will have to find a way to escape from a hungry fox.

At the beginning of this story, Squirrelly Gray is surrounded by drizzle and dark skies, his life illustrated in black and white until the acorn opens. When this happens (thanks to a well-timed twitch), Squirrelly Gray’s world bursts into color. He exclaims “Oh, wow!” as the trees turn green and the sky turns blue. The only one not happy with the new colorful world is the hungry fox, whose dinner is going to get away now because somehow the magic in the acorn has turned his club into a flower.

Alternating comic panels with pages of rhyming text, Squirrelly Gray explains "why the world we know is colorful and bright." Unfortunately, Squirrelly Gray’s teeth don’t grow back with the opening of the acorn, but he does come away with a sporty looking hat! Squirrelly Gray is a fun character children can root for (and sympathize with), and his story makes a great choice for children whose interests are shifting in the direction of comics.

Comic book writer and illustrator James Kochalka lives in Vermont with his wife, son, and cat. Before starting his career as a cartoonist, he worked as a waiter in a Chinese restaurant. His comics include Pinky & Stinky, Monkey vs. Robot, Johnny Boo, and Peanutbutter & Jeremy. His comic American Elf won an Ignatz Award for Outstanding Online Comic. He is also a rock musician, and his band, James Kochalka Superstar, has released several albums - many of which include his cartoon drawings.

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