Since the early days of our relationship (while attending a university with a high squirrel population), my husband has believed he can speak squirrel. He makes a sort of Tsch Tsch noise with his tongue, and much of the time, the squirrels at least cock their heads in curiosity. Sometimes, they actually turn to look at him. He is certain they understand him...at least the gray squirrels.
So, when I started reading NUTS TO YOU by Lynne Rae Perkins, I immediately read aloud to him the tidbits that made speaking squirrel language not so far-fetched (albeit in a fiction book). There is even a pronunciation explanation for certain squirrel sounds, as well as numerous footnotes to explain behaviors and provide inside information. Beyond the language connection, I found the book captivating and enchanting. The story is being told to a human on a park bench by a wonderfully verbose squirrel who speaks human quite well. This squirrel conveys its greatest adventure: when a badly played "squirrel cried wolf" game ended in the capture of a squirrel named Jed by a hawk...and later a further adventure when his friends Chai and TsTs travel across the buzzpaths to frozen spiderwebs (power lines and towers = evidence of the creative language) to rescue Jed. What results is a series of adventures, contact with human tree surgeons, and a game named MOVE to get other squirrels to a safe place. Accompanied by the authors's artwork, the text is witty and filled with nutty ideas.
Lois Ehlert's NUTS TO YOU! (2004) shares the title with the chapter book and also features an adventurous squirrel. Told in rhymed text, it is the story of a brave and wily squirrel who climbs the bricks of an apartment building and miraculously discovers s tear in the screen, allowing him to enter the narrator's apartment. Lois Ehlert's cut-paper illustrations are bright and textured. Her "Squirrel Talk" notes explain about identification, teeth, feet, tail, nest/home, and food. The book was inspired by something that happened to her!
"Nuts to us all." - Jed in NUTS TO YOU by Lynne Rae Perkins