Thursday, February 16, 2012

Miss Suzy by Miriam Young (ill. Arnold Lobel)

This is one of my son's favorite books that his teacher reads to his class. It was originally published in 1964, but was reissued in 2004 for its 40th anniversary by Purple House Press, a publisher that does a fantastic job reissuing the sort of classic (and hard to find)  children's books I like to share here.

When my son showed me this book one morning at school, I got home and realized we had a first edition in our collection. This sometimes happens when you rescue entire libraries from abandoned elementary schools.

Miss Suzy tells the story of a kindhearted squirrel whose tidy home at the top of an oak tree is invaded by a gang of nasty red squirrels and she is forced to move into a dollhouse she finds in the attic of an abandoned house. With the dollhouse she finds a box of toy soldiers who come to life and come to her rescue by chasing the nasty red squirrels out of her old home.

I love that when I read this, my son tells me I'm saying it wrong, and he tells me how it should go (in a voice I'm sure he's learned from his teacher). Trust me, it's adorable.

The reason I'm sharing this book is the depiction of the red squirrels. I love how the illustrator Arnold Lobel drew them. Imagine if one of the original Gangs of New York was The Red Squirrels and its members were actual squirrels:

Poor Miss Suzy. I like how the book is teaching a fairly-accurate lesson about actual squirrel territorial behavior (although the better-adapted gray squirrels actually tend to do better).