Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween: A Safety Guide for Scaredies

illus. by author. 64p. (Scaredy Squirrel Series). Kids Can. 2013. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781894786874.
K-Gr 3—In eight humorous, engaging chapters, Scaredy Squirrel shares a multitude of survival strategies for the holiday by cleverly organizing visual and textual information in the format of a nonfiction book, including a table of contents. A preface notes that "it's time to gather the courage to face the ghoulish festivities!" One tip is a "vacant doghouse gives the illusion that your home is well guarded" and another suggests using "garlic to stink out vampires!" A chapter on costumes suggests layering outfits for warmth, gives directions for making silly costumes, and offers ratings for "unscary, scary, and terrifying" costumes in categories such as "Classics," "Humor," "Fairy Tale," and "Science Fiction." "Halloween Candy" categorizes types of sweets and recommends that an adult inspect candy before a child eats it. Other chapters cover party planning and other activities and offer detailed instructions for playing dead "to confuse predators." Watt's humorous illustrations done with charcoal pencil and Photoshop, along with the witty text, will keep readers coming back to each spread. Use this to discuss parts of a nonfiction book; the difference between fiction and nonfiction; to supplement lessons on charts, sorting, and organization; and to develop and discuss strategies to cope with fearful situations. This essential addition to holiday collections will be of interest all year long.—Laura Scott, Farmington Community Library, MI
Including a costume scare-o-meter, tips on jack-o'-lantern carving, and the proper method for visiting a haunted mansion (as quickly as you can), Scaredy Squirrel has prepared a safety guide for this very dangerous and frightening holiday. Scaredy Squirrel's own brand of humorous neuroses satisfyingly fills the comic-book illustrations of what is essentially a repeat of his (also story-less) Christmas safety guide.
Young readers will enjoy the worrywart’s take on “scary” holiday topics such as pumpkin carving and apple bobbing. Giggling over Scaredy Squirrel’s foibles may comfort kids who, like Scaredy, are wary of spooky traditions. On the list of “rational excuses” not to enter a haunted mansion: “I’m allergic to dust mites and being caught off guard.” The squirrel’s over-the-top examples may inspire kids to be more courageous. The fun format is filled with multi-panel illustrations featuring humorous labels and asides, a trick-or-treating map, and costume ideas arranged by theme and “fear factor.” An excellent choice for a read-aloud in the days leading up to Halloween.

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