Lynne Rae Perkins seems to have beat me to the punch.
Perkins is a Newbery Medal-winning author, best known for her novels ALL ALONE IN THE UNIVERSE, CRISS CROSS, and AS EASY AS FALLING OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH. She has dabbled in juvenile fiction before but those three popular books all fall squarely upon young adult shelves, typecasting her as an author of more young adult fare. Suffice it to say, NUTS TO YOU seemed to me, to be a bit of a change of pace for Perkins, which I love seeing authors try from time to time.
NUTS TO YOU begins with Perkins herself, sitting on a park bench. A squirrel approaches her and begins to tell her this story: Jed the squirrel is captured and carried away from his village by a hawk. While contemplating his impending death, Jed miraculously escapes from the hawk's clutches and falls into a neighboring squirrel village, many many trees away. Jed's friend TsTs witnesses the entire thing and is determined to rescue him. She enlists fellow squirrel friend Chai to accompany her along the "buzzpaths" (electrical power lines) to rescue Jed and bring him home. Call it, THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY, just with squirrels instead of dogs and cats.
Maybe I'm just juvenile myself, but I found myself cracking up occasionally throughout NUTS TO YOU. The redneck squirrels who rescue Jed are particularly funny ("Be loik wooter!"). I love how Perkins doesn't take her voice too seriously, keeping this tale light and swift-moving. Too serious of a tone and the reader would not care for these furry creatures as much. Instead, by showcasing them as the small-brained, short-attention-spanned, little animals that they are, allows the reader to have fun with them, and in turn, develop an affection toward them. I'm sure there are some readers out there who will find the squirrels annoying, but those readers probably don't like squirrels in general and they probably shouldn't pick up a children's novel about squirrels in the first place!
I thought Perkins captured the squirrels voices, thoughts, and actions perfectly. The squirrels themselves never fully realize the danger they are sometimes in, because they cannot focus long enough to be scared! There are surprising themes of friendship, acceptance, and adventure as well as an in-your-face lesson to humans about nature. Perkins' involvement in the story is clever too!
I found NUTS TO YOU to be a fun read. If you get a kick out of watching squirrels chase each other up trees, you probably will have fun with this book too. If you don't like squirrels, well, nuts to you!