Because they validate my protective mothering side, I enjoy reading books where conscientious mothers, particularly fiercely vigilant ones, are portrayed as heroes. And you won't find a more heroic mother than David Ezra Stein's Ol' Mama Squirrel.
Baby squirrels might make tempting snacks for many creatures, but Ol' Mama Squirrel declares, "It won't happen on my watch!" "Chook, chook, chook!" she scolds, and the cat, the owl, and the dog leave in search of easier prey. When a grizzly bear climbs into her tree, she goes at him with a fury, but once he gets over his initial shock, he just laughs. After all, she may be crazy, but she is only a "puny squirrel." But Ol' Mama Squirrel is not easily intimidated, and she scoops up her babies and raises the alarm. While one squirrel may not be a threat to the grizzly, a hundred mama squirrels send him packing.
Using muted colors and simple shapes, Stein keeps the focus on his titular character. Ol' Mama Squirrel is the star of the story whether she is shaking her fist at an airplane or waving her arms at a dog. Circular snapshots shows her baring her teeth, swinging a stick, and giving a war cry. Her fearlessness is accentuated with bold, flowing lines and dramatic perspectives -- one that puts the readers right behind her as she faces down the bear.
Check out the book trailer, preferably with a child on your lap. Then read about how Mr. Stein made the art at Pen & Oink.
Ol' Mama Squirrel
by David Ezra Stein
published by Nancy Paulsen Books
Recommended for ages 3 and up
If you want a look at the art for Mr. Stein's newest book, Dinosaur Kisses, head over to Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Don't miss the trailer at the end of the post.