Saturday, March 22, 2014

Squirrels on Skis by J. Hamilton Ray

Squirrels on Skis by J. Hamilton Ray, illustrated by Pascal Lemaitre

Rating: 5 stars

I admit I am surprised to announce: We're a skiing family.  Thanks to the pushing encouragement of my husband, our big trip at the start of this very long, very cold, very miserable winter (that keeps on coming! Snow is in the forecast next week, in the first full week of Spring!) involved ski school for Lorelei and Ben.  I actually had some anxiety over them in ski school, even though "anxiety" is rarely a word I use when describing my own feelings about motherhood.  I was nervous, for lots of reasons.

But they totally and completely floored me--floored us, I should say.  Jonathan and I watched in amazement as, after two days of ski school, they came swooshing down a big Colorado mountain last November with big, proud grins on their faces.

What's a proud father to do?  Quickly keep the interest of skiing alive and go a handful of other times this snowy winter.  And what's a proud mother to do?  Promptly look to see what children's book exists on skiing!  (Duh!  Of course!)
Kiefer's skiing name: Skiefer.

Turns out, there aren't many.  But there is this one, and it is good, and I think we've had it the majority of the winter.  We check it out almost every other time we go to the library, so I've read this book out loud at least a dozen times, if not more.  But I still don't understand when Kiefer requests it, as his adorable toddler mouth has trouble pronouncing "squirrels on skis."  Luckily Lorelei and Ben are there to help me interpret.

It is a very good book, though it's 4-6 pages longer than I'd like.  It is one of those books that, when chosen at bedtime when you're battle-weary from the day, you have to fake excitement about because you are looking forward to the saying good-night part of bedtime.  Know what I mean?  But it is a well-paced book with a good plot and plenty of suspense thrown in to make the reader and even a tired parent stay interested.

And each of them balanced
on two little skis,
wearing muffs on their ears
and pads on their knees.
In this snowy village, squirrels start skiing for some inexplicable reason.  First one, then two, then hundreds.  Thousands!  The townspeople don't know what to do.  They think about "disposing" them, but some villagers think that's mean, so these nice guys have one day to figure out the problem and fix it before mean Mr. Powers comes in with his new vacuum device to get rid of the varmints.  Young Sally Sue Breeze points out that the squirrels are so complete in their quest to ski that they've stopped eating and might die (I could think of worse things, but...)!  Single-handedly she figures out that a crafty rabbit is turning a profit.  At the run-down ACME Popsicle Stick factory, he's selling popsicle sticks for skis and toothpicks for poles--at a rate of ten acorns a piece.

Within the nice rhyme, Sally Sue Breeze chides the rabbit for selling what's not his, and for swiping food from the squirrels.  She makes him take part in her plan to get the squirrels to stop and eat, and to provide a nice ski chalet for them (the old factory) where they can ski in an organized fashion, away from the town.

This is a great beginner book--for those beginning to read and beginning to ski!

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