I was asked to review a set of children’s book called “What Squirrels Do.” The books were ever so slightly awkward to read on the computer because I could see only one page at a time, while the book was laid out to have two pages side by side, one with a couplet, neatly framed with a picture of a squirrel in a tree, and then on a separate page the related picture. Yet my five year old enjoyed hearing the story read, particularly when I’d tease each page asking, “is this what happens?” and he’d answer “noo…..” or very occasionally “yes”. My two year old enjoyed the pictures, which I never lingered on long enough for her taste.
I wanted to turn the books into a game, with the children and I figuring out our own ideas for what squirrels could do yet I found it harder to do than I had thought. The first book in some ways explains things a person might see – bare patches on trees, grocery carts abandoned in bushes, swings moving on their own – through silly ideas about how it involves squirrels. The second book follows a Squirrel Olympics theme and the fourth one in some ways looks at the size of squirrels and what they could do for fun as very anthropomorphistic creatures. In some ways to make up our own according to the patterns of the second and third books was easier for us than to think about how squirrels could be the silly explanation for things around us. We’re very imaginative in some ways here, but we also have a tendency to talk quite a bit about the real causes behind things around us.
The book is credited as being by toddler Hazel Nutt, with her parents behind her pen. I had a chance to ask the parents some questions, so without further ado here are my questions and her answers:
Our daughter has just turned two, so Hazel Nutt is very easy to “write as” at the moment, as the real Hazel provides plenty of inspiration and ideas in all that she does!
We live in a little rural village, with beautiful walks in almost every direction. We see lots of animals and birds that our daughter adores. We have recently seen foxes, deer, bats, owls, as well as the firm favorite of squirrels.
We feel that if you are going to feed wild animals, you should give food that they are used to, not unnatural alternatives, so we are against giving bread or salted nuts to squirrels. If you want to feed wild squirrels this winter, why not have some fun collecting acorns and store them ready to give the squirrels a lovely treat!
We often go to feed the ducks and are shocked at how many people still feed them bread, which lies heavy on their stomachs, making them easier for predators to catch. We give ducks bird seed, which they can’t get enough of that and they even come and take that straight from your hand.
We try to have a good mix of fact and fiction on the website, so its not all strictly our daughter’s childhood, but yes we do wonder what our daughter will think when she is older. Hopefully, we don’t/won’t have anything too embarrassing on there! We try to write in a style that takes the mickey out of us as parents, rather than her as a child!
Yes, we are working on another four books on what squirrels do in each season, but it will probably be much later in year that these are published, as we have a new baby due in April and it might take a little time to adjust to having two beautiful, charming children.
Independent book publishing was what we expected it to be in so far as getting the book published, but it is very hard work networking and getting the author name and books seen by as many people as possible. We believe though that you never know who will see your guest posts, reviews or interviews and anyone of them could be picked up by a major media outlet, so we would advise other authors to contact as many people as they can to highlight their new book creations.
I was sent a free copy of each of the books.