Review Detail

Kids Fiction 1073
Squirrel Battles
(Updated: March 15, 2016)
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Lucky is a young red squirrel who finds himself being takn care of by a gray squirrel, First Daughter. Lucky has been found out of his nest by dogs who patrol the park and turned over to the Cloudfoots who live in Albion Park even though he is not one of them. He is small, and the leader of the squirrels, Ma, despairs of him being able to make the Patrol to help defend the squirrels against the Northenders, who live among concrete and are rougher. With the help of Maizie, who hopes to move up in the ranks by ingratiating herself to First Daughter, Lucky learns the skills he needs to survive and fight against the Cloudfoots' nemeses. When Lucky and pal Nimlet meet Tarragon, the niece of the Northenders' chief, they learn that the other squirrels are really very much all alike, and that Tarragon's uncle might be engineering the struggle for his own glory. Despite the dangers of the park, the young squirrels manage to forge an uneasy peace among squirrel kind.

Good Points
With its battle tactics and territorial disputes, as well as the hierarchies among the squirrels, this will be a good choice for readers who like other books about animals such as Sutherland's The Wings of Fire series (dragons), Hughes' The Unnaturals (genetically engineered animals), Iserles' The Taken (fox), Fiedler's Mouseheart (rodents) or Perkin's Nuts to You (more squirrels), Holt's The Last Dogs or Lasky's Horses of the Dawn.

This book stood out to me because the characters were well-developed and easily distinguished from one another. The clan dispute is understandable-- the Cloudfoots inhabit and better territory, and the Northenders want it-- but easily resolved when the squirrels realize that they all can work together. The author's note about the current endangerment of native red squirrels in Europe because of an earlier importation of gray squirrels adds a sense of realism to the struggle.

The supporting characters are interesting as well. The dogs who patrol the park don't eat squirrels and keep other dogs from doing so, although they can't be everywhere all the time, and one squirrel, who has not been a sympathetic character, does come to grief at the paws of an overzealous Scottie. There are also a few deaths during skirmishes, which makes this an older middle grade book despite the appealing fellow on the cover.

Know a child who won't read anything but Erin Hunter's The Warriors series? This is a great book to read until the next book comes out!
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