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Review: Squirrels on Skis by J. Hamilton Ray

Squirrels on Skis
By J. Hamilton Ray
Illustrated by Pascal Lemaitre

Random House

ISBN: 9780449810811
Grades K-2
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Early readers hold the power to hook kids at a crucial time in their reading lives. But I sometimes find myself reacting to them with hesitation. What’s my fear? That inside lies a boring formula instead of an entertaining story. It happens. So while there are scores of delightful books in this niche, sometimes I need reminding. Consider Squirrels on Skis (part of the Random House Beginner Books series) a knock to the head (in a good way). A refreshingly goofy early reader with wide appeal.

Over the hill they came. Masses of squirrels on skis. The nearby town is soon overrun. Where are the squirrels coming from? Why are they skiing? Where did they get tiny skiing equipment? While the townspeople make plans to solve the problem (see also: dispose of the squirrels), intrepid town reporter Sally Sue Breeze is on the case, discovering the origin of the skis and coming up with a way to make both the townspeople and the squirrels happy.

Ray’s text passes the stumble test – the rhymes aren’t awkward and word choices aren’t forced. This ease of reading will not be lost on young readers.

The illustrations are loose pen and ink with (what appears to be) digital coloring. It isn’t a particularly refined style, but that’s the point. It certainly suits this book, where silliness reigns.

Unexpected and fun from page one, Squirrels on Skis will make a crowd-pleasing addition to your collection.

Review copy from the publisher.

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.