He was only one squirrel. There wasn’t much time. What should he do?
Nuts to You by Newbery Medal winner Lynne Rae Perkins encourages us to ask this question and plenty of others. The story will take students and families on a journey of self-discovery and survival, and it will have every reader laughing out loud, thinking deep (squirrel-ish) thoughts, and wondering what lengths they would go to for a friend.
When Jed’s “unfortunate snatching” by a hawk forces his friends, TsTs and Chai, to embark on a quest to find him, an unplanned adventure begins. Along the way, these fun-loving rodents discover a whole world outside of their own.
In the distance, she could barely make out the top of the silver egg. The great beak. The line of frozen spiderwebs.
They were tinier than usual, and arranged differently, and it took a minute or two for Chai and TsTs to figure out that this was because they had traveled sideways and backward and slantwise, and they had ended up in who-knows-where.
Who-knows-where turns out to be a place that brings new friends (including a girl squirrel named Tchke), a new community (the red squirrels whose accent sounds vaguely Australian), and new dangers. Humans are chain sawing through the forest and threatening everything around them, including the squirrels’ families and friends. Will our steadfast squirrels be able to persuade their loved ones to move to safety? Yes – but they will have to appeal to the playful side of squirrel nature.
“Here’s what I think,” she said. “If we call it a game, and everyone thinks it’s a game, then it’s a game. At least for a while. It needs a name, though, and there should be teams. And a way to keep score. But the most important thing is, everyone has to believe it’s a game.”
While fun and adventure fill the pages of this sweet spot book, so does the message of conservation and ingenuity, deftly woven to never distract from the joy of the story. Families can discuss environmental issues of their own, and how we humans could learn a thing or two from squirrels when it comes to taking care of it.
“Live for the moment,” said Jed. “But bury a lot of nuts.”
Nuts to You will also intrigue readers thanks to its witty footnotes and Perkins’ beautiful black and white illustrations to support younger listeners.
Nuts to you, reader. Nuts to you all!