________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 13. . . .November 30, 2012


Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Christmas: A Safety Guide for Scaredies.

Mélanie Watt.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2012.
80 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
ISBN 978-1-55453-469-2.

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.

Review by Jill Griffith.

** /4



The cons of holiday sweets:

The fruitcake

-requires a sturdy table

-Very popular re-gift item

-Lasts for decades


Scaredy Squirrel is preparing children for a Christmas season that can be fraught with peril in the latest title from the popular "Scaredy Squirrel" series that has now spawned a children's television series and merchandise including a Scaredy Squirrel puppet, one of which I am a proud owner. The book is formatted slightly differently from past Scaredy fare in that it doesn't have a story but includes a preface and eight chapters with titles like "Christmas Decorations," "Christmas Pet Peeves" and "Holiday Sweets" that take children through Scaredy's dos and don'ts for the holiday. Promo information touts it as a "quirky safety guide filled with practical tips and nutty step-by-step instructions to help readers prepare for a perfect Christmas."

internal art     As seen from the excerpt, Mélanie Watt's holiday offering for young children reads more like a humorous guide for adults. There is the usual Scaredy Squirrel fare – cautionary tips from Scaredy, Scaredy's usual list of villainous creatures to stay away from, and checklists to make Christmas both safe and fun. Most of the subject matter, though, will be understood by adults who may spend some time explaining the references to the children to whom they read. Older children in Grades 3 and up may start to understand things like Christmas sweaters, airport security and preppy, but the personality types listed in the shopping section will likely only be understood by adults, and children will miss the humour.

      The charcoal pencil and acrylic illustrations are fun and colourful, and Watt's makes it seem as if Scaredy is right there with the reader, guiding the reader through the perils of Christmas, which will make children giggle. Some of the illustrations are downright hilarious, including reindeer name tags, and Scaredy Squirrel snow angels. The strength of this particular Scaredy title lies in Watt's pictures.

      Watt's book would have been better in a larger format, particularly as this book will likely be given as a Christmas present. The text in some places is too small, making it difficult to read, and some pages are just too wordy as if Watt is trying to fit everything in. I have always been a fan of Mélanie Watt, but I think she would have been better to edit out much of the wording in this title and focus more on the things that children understand and love about Christmas, while focussing less on the things that adults understand, laugh about, and grit their teeth over during the Christmas holiday season.

Recommended with reservations.

Jill Griffith is the Youth Services Manager at Red Deer Public Library in Red Deer, AB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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