Sunday, August 01, 2010
Nuts, by Kacy Cook
One day, Nell and her brothers find a baby squirrel lying in their back yard. Its mother has abandoned it and the kids decide to rescue it and adopt the squirrel as a pet. Pretty soon thereafter, they find a second baby and the work of raising two baby squirrels goes into full swing. Nell does some research on the internet and finds out that she is supposed to hand them over to a professional wildlife rehabilitator. But instead, she lies to her parents and claims that she knows how to take care of the animals. Against the odds (and basic common sense) she succeeds in raising the animals but then suffers from the difficulties of breaking her bond and letting the animals go free.
This is an educational middle reader in several senses of the word. For one thing, you can learn a lot about squirrels by reading it, but there is also plenty here about wildlife conservation and various moral lessons about the costs of deceit. It is a very easy book to use in pointing out to young readers what they should not do when they find a baby wild animal.
The moral compass though is a bit skewed. In the end, everyone regrets the bad choices they have made (and the author reiterates that message in her acknowledgments), but since the consequences of these decisions are so minor, it doesn't really seem like the typical reader would take home that message. Instead, it seems more likely that reading a book like this would make you want to raise a baby wild animal of your own.