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4.8 out of 5 stars
Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
I absolutely loved the Cybils-winning picture book Scaredy Squirrel, by Mélanie Watt. I can't tell you how thrilled I am to report that Scaredy Squirrel is back with a sequel. And it's even better than the first book. In Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend, our neurotic young friend gradually comes to realize that spending all of his time alone up in a tree is perhaps not the most fun that life has to offer. He sets out on a mission to make a friend, though the friend who he ends up with is not quite the one that he expected.

This book has all of the attributes that worked in the first book, strong line drawings, expressive icons, and a mix of full-page and smaller inset panels. The icons include a variety of individuals who might be biters, and hence are not promising friend material (including Godzilla and bunnies). The activities that Scaredy Squirrel undertakes by himself to pass the time include knitting and chatting with a sock puppet. The "perfect friend" that he identifies has various safe attributes (including being germ-free, with the same germ icons from the previous book). And Scaredy Squirrel's plan for making a perfect first impression is hilarious. "Make sure name tag is visible." "Wear mittens to hide sweaty paws." And so on.

Don't you love a book that makes you laugh? Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend made me laugh out loud on nearly every page. I think that the funniest was Scaredy's Risk Test for potential friends, including incisive questions like "What's your hobby? Biting or other."

Oh, I'm simply in love with this book. Parents will like it because it's well-constructed, with engaging pictures and entertaining text. Kids will like it because they'll be able to relate to Scaredy's fears, while feeling superior due to not being quite so fearful themselves. If you know any kids about to start Kindergarten, or about to enter any environment where they'll be meeting new people, you simply must buy them this book.

This book review was originally published on my blog, Jen Robinson's Book Page, on April 7, 2007.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Scaredy Squirrel is back, and this time he's preparing to make a friend. And preparing is the right word as Scaredy Squirrel does not go into the world unarmed. In fact, Scaredy Squirrel even knows ahead of time who would make a good friend and who wouldn't:

"A few individuals Scaredy Squirrel is afraid to be bitten by: walruses, bunnies, beavers, piranhas, Godzilla."

Scaredy Squirrel decides on a goldfish as a new friend, because he has a "bubbly personality," is "squeaky clean" and "quiet" and, most importantly, has "NO teeth" and is "germ-free." A goldfish doesn't do much, "BUT is 100% safe!"

But a funny thing happens on the way to the pond. A dog begins to chase Scaredy Squirrel and, after several hours of playing dead, Scaredy realizes the dog only wants to play. Scaredy must reevaluate and finds his "almost perfect friend" has "muddy paws," "wet doggy smell," a "loud bark," "drool," "germs," and "tooth." Most poignantly, dog is "83% safe, but Lots of Fun!" Aren't all good friends the same?

Mélanie Watt's Scaredy Squirrel books are charming not only because they give a scaredy squirrel (or kid) a little nudge, but also because her cartoonish illustrations are cheerful, drop-dead funny, and full of intriguing details. She also indulges the little ones with series of lists as Scaredy goes about his day. (Have you ever noticed how much the 3- to 5-crowd loves a good list?) For example, when Scaredy is preparing to befriend goldfish, we learn of "A few items Scaredy Squirrel needs to make the Perfect Friend: lemon, name tag, mittens, comb, mirror, air freshener, toothbrush, chewtoy." Each item is placed in its own illustrated box. The air freshener does come in handy, but I won't spoil the pleasure in finding out how.

"Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend" is perfect for the three- to seven-year old reader and is an excellent choice for a school or library read aloud. Risk-averse children everywhere will thank you.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
I love Scaredy Squirrel. I was updating some computers the other day, and - to help pass the time - I happened to pick up a copy of Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend. This little guy is so cute and funny, and I can identify with him because I've always been a bit of a scaredy squirrel myself. Scaredy doesn't really have any friends because he's afraid to leave his tree. It's a dangerous world out there, and a squirrel never knows when he might be set upon by a deadly rabbit, piranha, walrus, or even Godzilla. Then one day, Scaredy spots someone who passes his Perfect Friend test with flying colors - a squeaky clean, quiet, 100% safe goldfish. It's time to put Operation First Impression into effect. It's a pretty elaborate plan he's drawn up which involves a number of objects, including - of course - his "Hello, My name is Scaredy" nametag, mittens to avoid the effects of sweaty paws, the creation of a careful distraction, and more. Ever wary of danger, he also has a backup plan to avoid contact with any potentially harmful creature.

As luck would have it, he's barely out of his tree before his handy little mirror reveals a wet, dirty, toothy dog coming up behind him. The chase is on, wearing Scaredy down to the point that he eventually falls back on his plan of last resort - playing dead. Then a funny thing happens. The dog doesn't go anywhere. Eventually, Scaredy realizes that the dog is just looking for a friend, just like he is.

This is a great book for young children, especially those who tend to be on the shy side. The artwork is colorful, engaging, and fun, and the very entertaining story does a great job of teaching youngsters that you can't judge an animal (or person) by appearance alone - and that you won't make any good friends if you're too timid to get to know those around you. The best friend you'll ever have may be the last person you would ever expect him/her to be.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
After the original Scaredy Squirrel book was read and enjoyed by the entire family (adults and 5-year-old alike), I looked for more Mélanie Watt books and was thrilled to find three others in the Scaredy series. This book certainly did not disappoint.

As with her other Scaredy books, Watt follows a formula in this one, but the repetition is not a bad thing. As always, Scaredy has a safety kit and a backup plan and when things don't quite work out for him, he plays dead. What's fun about this routine is that it lends just enough predictability to the books that the reader feels like he or she really knows Scaredy. Whenever I reach the point where Scaredy resorts to his defense mechanism of playing dead, I stop and allow my daughter to supply those vital words. This is something she really enjoys. I also can't help but marvel at the author's inventiveness as she always comes up with new and funny supplies for Scaredy's specialized kits.

The message of this book is that friends come in all sorts of packages and I think that's a wonderful message for children. Scaredy thinks he knows who will be the perfect friend for him--the safe, clean, and quiet goldfish. Instead, he finds the perfect friend in a most unusual package. Though this friend is only 83% safe, he shakes Scaredy's routine up in a very enjoyable fashion whereas the goldfish would likely have proved to be a very boring companion indeed. My daughter is five and just about the start kindergarten and I know she can personally relate to this book. I watch her on the playground nervously sidling up to other kids and asking if they want to play with her. This book makes a lovely point about the pleasures of unexpected friendship.

As with the other Scaredy books, the drawings are a delight in and of themselves. Scaredy is adorable and the detailed drawings are a real treat. Scaredy's map of his route towards meeting the "perfect" friend is hilarious and we love the details in the "playing dead drawings" wherein small changes--the right eye open in one drawing and then the left in another--support the idea of the passage of time. Watt is both a very clever writer and a very clever illustrator.

Not to be missed, either, are the short author descriptions at the end of each book. Each one offers a new tidbit about Watt that always ties in with the plot of the book. For example, in this book we learn about several things that have bitten Mélanie Watt. Also noteworthy is the fact that, "Mélanie Watt has friends and most of them have teeth." It's details like these that truly make the books special and help to underscore that this is Watt's passion.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Melanie Watt, Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend (Kids Can, 2007)

Scaredy Squirrel is back, and despite finding many ways to occupy his time, he's decided he needs a friend. One day he spies a goldfish in the birdbath near the tree (how'd it get there? No idea) and decides that a goldfish would make the perfect friend. He devises a cunning plan to get from the tree to the birdbath, but of course things can't go quite right... I actually liked this one better than the first Scaredy Squirrel book; there's more of a flow to it, more of a rhythm to the language, and it just seems to work better. A fun little book. *** ½
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I love this book! Not only is it hilarious, it is educational. I am a reading teacher and there are so many great ways to use this book in the classroom. It is a wonderful ice breaker at the beginning of the year because as Scaredy Squirrel works to make "the perfect friend" you can use this book to discuss with your kids what they might do to make friends. You can also discuss what personality types they feel make the "perfect friend." It is a delightful book, and kids of all ages enjoy this wonderfully crafted story. :)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 27, 2008
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
All the books in the Scaredy Squirrel series are wonderful. My 7 yr old son loves them! He was particularly excited about the appearance of Godzilla in one of the stories (that's his other obsession at the moment).

I definitely recommend this whole series. As an adult, I find them hilarious , too! Even the jacket flap info is cute. We can't wait for the next one. I hope the author writes more.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
My family LOVES this book! The first one is also great!
We get a lot of children's books at the library for our daughter and this is the most enjoyable to read book we have ever checked out! My husband and I like the whole series so much we ended up purchasing some of them for our own home library collection.
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on October 8, 2013
Format: Paperback
My two sons (ages 5 and 7) and I are completely in love with Scaredy Squirrel. We happened upon the first book by accident and read it three nights in a row. I then went to the library and found five more of his adventures; they couldn't wait until bedtime, at which time we read two of the new books, but not Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend. Later that night, my 7-year-old had a nightmare. As he climbed in bed with me he asked if I would read him Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend to forget his bad dream. Within minutes, he was laughing and giggling and had forgotten his troubles. Scaredy is an adorable little guy with a sweet (not sappy) demeanor, but I think it's the tiny details of the book that both my sons and I love best. There's a page in this book that shows a questionnaire that Scaredy has prepared to present to strange characters he might inadvertently meet if he leaves his tree. I've been laughing to myself all day thinking about the items on that questionnaire and picturing what happens to the paper when he does meet up with another creature. Really, really funny stuff, especially if you take the time to read it carefully and appreciate the minutiae--my kids see things that I don't, which is a lot of fun.
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on June 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
A friend picked this up for our children. It is a great little book, and part of the Scaredy Squirrel series. Scaredy is a little neurotic, and maybe obsessive compulsive. Scaredy is afraid to have any friends because he is afraid of being bitten. So he spends his time alone reading, whistling, doing crafts, knitting and more. Then one day he spots a goldfish in the fountain in the park. The gold fish would make a perfect friend - he's clean, bubbly, quiet and has no teeth. So Scaredy makes a list of all he needs to go and meet the perfect friend: lemon for lemonade, name tag, air freshener, mirror, mittens, toothbrush, comb and candy. Once he is ready he heads out to introduce himself to the goldfish. He creates a perfect plan for how to get to the goldfish with the least exposure. But all that goes awry when he runs into a dog. Then his first big adventure begins.

This is a neat little story for children. It is a pity that Scaredy cannot meet Elliot and his gang from Elliot's Park. I'm sure they would have a great adventure.
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