Ricky takes a walk in the woods. On the first page–we see a little squirrel hiding behind a tree as Ricky walks down the road. Two pages later, Ricky comes across a squirrel (lying on it’s back with a smile). Not sure if it’s the squirrel we saw on page one. I thought at this point that the squirrel is sleeping or playing — about to jump up and play with Ricky. (Look at the image on the cover–does he look dead to you?) BUT NO–the squirrel is DEAD. Ricky is joined by Annie (another Rabbit) and they take the dead squirrel home and talk about it.
Ricky’s daddy comes home–and explains that the squirrel doesn’t look good and he’s going to Squirrel Paradise..but “first we will bury him.” I was alittle disturbed by the lack of clarity about the whole sequence of events. You don’t look good–so we bury you then? The reference to Squirrel Paradise kind of skips an important step–you know, dying and all. But then it gets even more confusing. They bury the squirrel and then on the last page they see a squirrel very much alive way above in a tree. This squirrel looks just like the dead squirrel. So did he come back to life? Is it another squirrel? The one we saw at first? Circle of life? In the end this book just doesn’t work and I believe really add to the confusion of explaining death to young children.
One of my favorite movies, The Princess Bride, includes a hilarious scene with Billy Crystal and Carol Kane…talking about whether Westley is really dead or only “mostly dead”….seems like the squirrel has the same issue.