A Spring 2013 Kids' Indie Next List Pick!
Caldecott Honor winner David Ezra Stein's lively tale is a fantastic read-aloud, and feisty Mama Squirrel will have fierce mamas everywhere applauding!
Ol' Mama Squirrel has raised lots of babies, and she knows just how to protect them. Whenever trouble comes nosing around, she springs into action with a determined "Chook, chook, chook!" and scares trouble away. Her bravery is put to the test, however, when a really big threat wanders into town and onto her tree. But no matter what, Mama's not about to back down!
"As he did in Caldecott Honor Interrupting Chicken and Pouch!, Stein again shows his skill at finding laughs in commonplace situations…A rousing and rowdy readaloud." —Publishers Weekly, starred review for Ol' Mama Squirrel
"Showing his customary gift for spot-on evocations of childlike voice and sensibility, Caldecott honoree Stein (Interrupting Chicken, 2010) interweaves … decorative crayon sketches, relatively more finished vignettes … and painted "photos" —Kirkus Reviews, starred review for Love, Mouserella
"If only every grandchild rewarded a grandparent's gifts and missives with the outpouring of creativity little Mouserella inscribes to her dear Grandmouse." …The New York Times Book Review for Love, Mouserella
"Children will enjoy seeing fall anew through the eyes of a big-hearted character." —Booklist, starred review for Leaves
"Stein's autumnal pictures seem to glow, while the bear himself has the irresistible appeal of a well-loved toy" —Publishers Weekly, starred review for Leaves
"Stein understands and honors the young, curious mind and allows readers to share the joy of a discovery in text and illustration." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review for Leaves
"Neatly embodying the way a young child's drive toward independence seesaws with fear of the unknown." —Booklist, starred review for Pouch!
"Enjoyable, informative, and just plain nice." —Booklist for The Nice Book
Q&A with David Ezra Stein
1. What do you love most about picture books?
I love that picture books appeal to the kid in all of usthe part that is most open to wonder and laugh. People never forget their favorites; they last a lifetime.
2. What was the inspiration behind the book Ol' Mama Squirrel?
One time I was hiking along in the urban woods by my house with my then two-year-old-son, Sammy. Suddenly, we heard a noise: "CHK, CHK, CHK!" A fat squirrel was sitting at eye level, scolding us loudly. She looked like she might any moment jump from the branch to my head.
"CHK, CHK, CHK!" she said. "Ehhhh." She ended with an aggressive groan before starting again.
We hurried away and then, when we were far enough away, we laughed. "That squirrel was fierce!" I said to Sammy. "She was telling us, Get away from my babies! Get out of my tree!"
After that day, Sammy went around shaking his fist and saying, "Get my out tree!" (He didn't quite have the sentence structure yet, but he loved this new squirrel game.) He could do the scolding sound really well, too. "CHK! CHK! CHK!" with a click of the tongue in the cheek. "Ehhhh."
Some time later, I was working on a frog story that just wasn't coming together, and I thought of that funny squirrel. She was such a character. She was ready to take on a bear or a lion if necessary. I set my old story aside and wrote the story of Ol' Mama Squirrel. When I came to her cry of "CHK CHK CHK!" I made it pronounceable: "Chook, chook, chook!" For read-alouds.
3. What is a typical day like for you?
There is no typical day! But it's usually some combination of these: Write and doodle, play with my son, answer emails and correspond, have lunch. Then I exercise and take a nap. In the afternoon and evening I work on bigger projects, like paintings or longer stories. Sometimes I go out and draw with a friend. Sometimes I go shopping with my family or sing in my choir. Sometime I leave home to go talk about my books. It's definitely an interesting life.
4. Where do you like to make your artwork?
I make paintings in my studio. It's in my apartment and has a cool heptagon shape. It has lots of plants in it and is painted green. It's an oasis!
5. What comes first when creating your picture books, the art or the words?
The idea! That is, the main feeling of a book usually comes first. Like Joey's fear of everything. Or the main character. Like Mama Squirrel. Then I write to find the voice of the story, and draw to find the major "action" of the book. The character design and final art style come later on.
And now some quick hitters...
6. Favorite place in the entire world?
A particular pond in North Truro, MA.
7. Favorite TV show?
I don't really watch TV.
8. Favorite thing to do with your family?
I love going hiking with my family. It's always an adventure.
9. Favorite food?
Sesame noodles. They give me the power to be me.
10. Least-favorite food?
That's a tough question... It's tied between tripe and watery feta cheese. Yecch!