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.


Kacy Cook said...

Hi Paul,

I'm the author, and it was really nice for me to wake up this morning and find your lovely review of my book. I thank you sincerely for reading Nuts and taking the time to post this.

I can't resist pointing out, though, that one of the squirrels dies fairly early on, and later someone is severely bitten. Also, Nell learns that it is, in fact, illegal to raise such an animal. The other squirrel could well have been confiscated by authorities at any time and killed, as well as other legal consequences that could have arisen.

I hope you'll consider these points. Again, many, many thanks for reading Nuts and posting a review. I deeply appreciate it.

All best wishes,

Kacy Cook

Paul said...

It's always great when the author replies to one of my reviews. I know that some reviewers might not, but I find it interesting to hear from them.

I totally see your point in this case. There certainly are plenty of dramatic moments where bad things happen along the way. My take on those events was that they make the story interesting but they don't do as good of a job at showing how wrong the decision to raise a wild animal was in the first place. In the end, everything ends up OK. However, that's just my take on it, so I hope a reader or two will consider reading the book and piping in here with their own thoughts about the issue.

Readers: what do you think?