‘Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend’ – Tuesday’s Look at THIS Book!

* Every Tuesday we introduce you to a favorite book from our secret book room.

Scaredy 1

Today’s great book: Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend by Melanie Watt (2007, Kids Can Press)

Great Website: http://www.scaredysquirrel.com/aboutmw.html

Time to Read: short and very funny; we read it right after dinner

Summary:  from the website…”That lovable little worrywart is back. And he’s as scaredy as ever! In his latest adventure, Scaredy Squirrel sets out to make The Perfect Friend. And once he’s spotted a perfectly safe candidate (with no teeth), Scaredy’s ready. Armed with a name tag, mittens, a mirror and a lemon, he’s prepared to make The Perfect First Impression. But just when every detail is under control, Scaredy’s Action Plan takes a surprising — and “toothy” — turn. Will he survive this ordeal? Will he find his kindred spirit? Will he discover the true meaning of friendship? Read Scaredy’s nutty story to find out…

Best Quote from the Book:  “If all else fails, play dead…”

Our View:  Among the great 1st grade teachers of the century is Kathleen Brannen.  She has been our friend since Claire was in her class nearly a decade ago and she has shared so many good books and ideas with us – and the Scaredy Squirrel series of short books are among our newest favorite!   This is the story of one scared squirrel who has learned to handle his fear by simply having a plan.  The plans are hilarious and they are drawn in map form in detail on the pages of this wonderful story.  Watt is not only a fine storyteller but a master illustrator for young children and their dads, and this book is a treat in every way.  If your children have any fears, we happily recommend this book because it helps the reader understand courage and making a plan.  When the plans don’t always work out as expected, Scaredy Squirrel does a super job of rolling with the punches (in this case, energetic dogs in parks).  I only wish I had heard about this series sooner.

Favorite Illustration from the Book:

Scaredy 2

‘Land of the Not Lost’ Thursday Stories with Baby Frederico

*Every Thursday we introduce you to another quick bedtime story about our family’s favorite resident reptile – Baby Frederico. His backstory can be found here.  Enjoy!

 BF Home

Baby Frederico loves his Momma Mia and Papá Frita, his buddy Grenelda the Grasshopper, blue crayons, popcorn, and…The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.; but he did not like to get lost.  Here is his story:

Baby Frederico and his parents loved maps.  They loved treasure maps and city maps, state maps and country maps, world maps and maps of the moon’s craters and maps of the stars in the sky, google maps and yahoo maps, history maps, book maps, even those big, colorful maps at the local shopping mall.  Mamma Mia and Papa Frita would often say to Baby Frederico, “We love maps because getting lost is one thing, but staying lost is another.”  This family loved maps!

The first map Baby Frederico ever loved was a big drawing of a magical world that had been painted across the entire wall of the waiting room at the doctor’s office.  It was colored in black and white and inhabited by a dozen different roads and castles and caves and mysterious animals and other unusual characters.  He loved to start at the bottom left corner of the wall and carefully choose which path he could trace with his finger that might lead to the monstrous dragon’s lair or the distant field of gold coins that lay beyond one of the massive castles and its alligator-filled moats.

After he learned to read, his Papa Frita bought him wonderful map-filled books like Winnie the Pooh and his 100 acre wood, Treasure Island and its eerie pirate treasure map, The Hobbit and his ancient Middle-Earth world that stretched from the Shire to the land of Mordor, and My Father’s Dragon and his Island of Tangerina.

Baby Frederico and his Mamma Mia would spend Saturday afternoons at the kitchen table drawing grand maps of other favorite books like Where the Wild Things Are, The Hardy Boys and the Secret of Skull MountainA-Z Mysteries’ The Deadly Dungeon, The Wizard of Oz, and Peter Pan in Scarlet.

Maps helped Baby Frederico understand things – from where he was to where he wanted to go, which way and how long it might take to get there, and how to not stay lost. Whenever he was away at camp or on a long band trip at school or just feeling worried about tomorrow’s tests, his Mamma and his Papa always reminded him to draw it out on a map – just so he could remember where he was headed.

And as he grew, he learned that no matter the easy or tough or narrow or crooked or funny or scary paths that popped up around him, whether in his family or at school or among his friends…he could always remember, “Getting lost is one thing, but STAYING lost is another.”


The Coolest Maps of Childhood

This week in the teacher education class that I teach at our local college, we are talking about geography – what it looks like through the perspective of young children between the ages of around 4 or 5 to between 8 and 10, and how to teach it to them in a vibrant way. Our goal in any type of instruction is to start with what the learner knows and then bring them along in teaching them something we want them to know.  A map does much the same thing – it shows us where we are and where we want to go.

Map Winnie the Pooh

This is why this evening’s lecture is among my favorite subjects for one reason – these incredible maps!  When you think about it, it is really astounding how much maps are a part of our lives. Whether it is the three or four apps for maps that I have on my cell phone or the Garmin navigator in our car or the bookmarked map website on my desktop or those peculiarly large and colorful maps at the mall – we use them all the time.

Incredibly, some of your favorite books from childhood probably included a map.  For example, think of the classics like Winnie the Pooh, The Hobbit, My Father’s Dragon, and Treasure Island. Each of these books has the most elaborate and childlike map on their end pages or mixed among the chapter titles. Their illustrators inherently understood the powerful use of maps in the lives of children and books.

Map treasure-Island

And if you haven’t read the original Pooh books in years or haven’t looked over the wonderfully detailed maps of My Father’s Dragon, this is the weekend to do such things!

Here’s why – maps give children a sense of place in the world that exists around their home and in the world that exists around their imagination. So take them on a walk around your world this evening. Show them on a big map some exotic far-off place you want to visit with them before you die. Make your own map of the Land of Oz or Journey to the Center of the Earth this Sunday afternoon. Bury some treasure-filled shoebox in the backyard and make the coolest old pirate map drawn with crayons on a brown paper sack. Or instead of drawing it, build your map with blocks or clay or legos or even old fruit from the fridge! Your kids (and you) will love every word and every memory and every map you make of it.

Map My Fathers Dragon