Friday, November 11, 2016

Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep

Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep
by April Pulley Sayre; illus. by Steve Jenkins
40 pages; ages 4-8
Henry Holt and Co, 2016

themes: animals, nonfiction

Squirrels wrestle.
Squirrels leap.
Squirrels climb.
Squirrels sleep.

Active, rhyming text takes readers through a day in the life of a squirrel - from climbing branches to storing seeds ... to flying. We meet four kinds of squirrels native to North America who demonstrate the things squirrels do. For example, squirrels use their tails as an umbrella and to help for balance.

What I like LOVE about this book: Sayre's spare text leaves plenty of room for Jenkins's wonderfully detailed cut-paper collages. The illustrations will have kids pausing before page-turns just do they can take a closer look at a squirrel running up a tree with a mouth full of leaves.  What are those leaves for? There are buried acorns that germinate into oak seedlings, and a groundhog - what's he doing in the picture?

There's back matter! Four pages of luscious extra details about the squirrel species, what they eat, the kinds of nests they make, and how they (unintentionally) help plant trees. Pulley includes scads of resources and some notes for kids who want to dig deeper into squirrel science and environmental issues.

Beyond the book: What kinds of squirrels live near you?
Go on a squirrel hike. Take some photos or jot down notes of the kinds of squirrels you see: their color, what their ears look like, their tail, whether they have stripes.

Squirrel-watching. Once you find squirrels (for instance, raiding your bird feeder every afternoon) - watch what they do. How do they run? How do they climb trees? How do they go down trees? Do they jump from one tree to another - and if so, how far?

Learn to speak squirrel. They make all kinds of wonderful sounds from alarm calls (kuk-kuk-kuk) to gentle murmels that mean "feed me". If you need help, try this video.  

If you have a bird feeder then you know that squirrels will overcome just about any obstacle to get food. Here's one video of a squirrel overcoming obstacles to reach food. And here's a video of a squirrel stealing candy bars from a vending machine!

Today's review is part of the STEM Friday roundup. Drop by STEM Friday blog for more science books and resources. We're also joining PPBF (perfect picture book Friday), an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture BooksReview copy from publisher.


  1. What a great nonfiction find for kids who are curious about squirrels. Squirrels are fascinating. Excellent activities.

  2. Each year, my daughter and I smear peanutbutter on pinecones, roll them in bird seeds, and hang them in the branches of our trees from twine loops. The pinecone treats attract both birds and squirrels. I think I'm going to enjoy your picture book choice for this Friday quite a lot! thanks for sharing.