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*The Squirrel, the Worm, and the Nut Trees* by Jimmie Powell
The Squirrel, the Worm, and the Nut Trees by Jimmie Powell
Ages 4-8 48 pages Outskirts Press December 2007 Paperback    

The first thing that greets the reader upon seeing The Squirrel, the Worm, and the Nut Trees is the glossy green cover and large cartoon-like nature scenes. Illustrations both on the cover and inside this children’s book were created by Bobby Switzer and are soft, smooth and friendly - easy on the eyes. The happy and sometimes frustrated critters will have readers giggling.

This is the story of a ruthless little worm who merely smirks when Squirrel approaches him with his concerns about sharing the nut harvest. Squirrel and his family learn to adapt and harvest their share before the worms begin building their nests, thereby outwitting their nemesis and ensuring a full pantry all winter long. They do this without war, without hate… simply by adapting and accepting the change they must go through. The lesson in learning to be calm, rational and communicate rather than reacting with aggression is fairly strong in this story. I also enjoyed the concept broached in this tale that one can give a situation thoughtful consideration and sometimes consult with others in order to create an effective plan of action.

Adverse situations, such as the prospect of starving over the winter months, do not send the squirrel family over the edge; they stay calm and conserve what they have. They also learn to be proactive, to take fate into their own hands. Another interesting pointis that the squirrels also leave enough to sustain (and fool) the worms.

In spite of being a fictional children’s tale, The Squirrel, the Worm, and the Nut Trees can serve in the classroom setting with lessons on many levels from peace to dealing with conflict and biology lessons, such as the interconnected life systems. The lovable characters and insight into wildlife that this book provides could very well build an appreciation for nature in today’s children.

This is the first in a series by author Jimmie Powell. The suggested retail price of 15.95 (US) is a good price for a 44-page illustrated children’s book of this genre. The book is approximately 8.5 X 8.5 inches in size and pleasing to the eye with its soothing use of earth tones such as green, brown, burgundy, grey and blue.

Unfortunately, although I browsed the publisher’s website, I could not find any information on eco-printing or socially responsible publishing options that the publisher chose to employ during the production of this book, such as using vegetable inks, recycled content, carbon offset efforts or support of a charitable organization. However, I cannot find it within my heart to dock this book even a half a point. I truly love this book and highly recommend it.

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