Article provided by Eleanor Lawrie
The Children’s Book Review | December 18, 2015
This set of 24 delightful stories full of fun, family, self-confidence, responsibility, obedience is a sure winner. The setting is a real forest, and the tales are wrapped around nature as well as conservation, reforestation, and agriculture.
While the text is perfect for Middle Grade reading, it is also ideal for reading aloud to younger children. There is one captioned photograph per story and whimsical silhouettes reflect the characters again between chapters.
The book not only adds valuable reading material to family and school, but provides an opportunity to continue into the study of real flying squirrels, and their habitat. Other topics of discussion include any of the animals introduced, issues of behaviour that all children experience, questions of what is right or wrong about something that happens in a story, and why the characters have reacted certain ways in different situations.
Shelby’s antics, and all that they hold, comprise a book that can be treasured by families and kept in school classrooms and libraries for many years without becoming out of date.
At the age of three months, Shelby is told that he is a flying squirrel. He and his sister, Darby, have always wondered what the initial F stands for. Now their mother announces that their names are Shelby Flying Squirrel and Darby Flying Squirrel. Shelby’s reaction is to disobediently run down the tree and subsequently end up inside a high-rise condo building, where to escape from a cat he leaps off a balcony railing, knowing somehow he can do it and ‘flies’ safely into the tree below.
The next eleven stories unfold over the period of one year: each story is roughly chronological to the seasons. In September the family moves; they have to find a way to cross an urban street, and a kindly crossing guard helps out after Shelby is frightened by a bouncing ball and a mean crow.
In October, being told they will now begin flying at night prompts Shelby’s confession that he is afraid of the dark. November sees him wondering if he has gone blind when the whole world is white one cold morning. A snowshoe rabbit has to dig him out of a drift.
December tells of Shelby and Darby meeting Santa Claus when he touches down in the meadow where the squirrels like to play. He finds treats for them in his magic bag of gifts. In January we meet an old farm horse, and there is a sleigh ride to end the story after Shelby sprays the horse with snow by accident and is firmly told to watch his surroundings and be more careful.
February finds Shelby wanting to go in a different direction (he is forever waking up early and loves to sneak out while his mother and sister are sleeping) and he has a mishap at a maple sugar camp. During March he witnesses men bringing a caged raccoon family to release, and he helps find them a new home.
April sees him being carried to school in a knapsack that he has crawled into, eaten all the goodies inside and fallen asleep. Taken for a mouse when he peeks out, he is lucky that the kindly crossing guard has been a chaperon with the children on their trip to the woods and she releases him safely at the edge of the trees. In May there is a midair collision with a mother robin, injuring one of her wings. All three flying squirrels help her get up the tree trunk to her eggs.
In June Shelby is taken into the Boy Scout camp in the meadow by Marvin F Mouse, who is quite sure Shelby’s F must stand for Field, as his own does. They wreak havoc in the food tent, and escape. Marvin loves to cling to Shelby’s back while he ‘flies’ and they become best friends.
July brings us to the meadow and a mystery, which ends up being pondered by all the friends, finally having to bring the old farm horse, Charlie, who says that trees are being planted. They decide they must move, because the meadow is very dear to them, and it won’t ever be the same open space again.
All the animals that make up Shelby’s circle of friends move to the forest beside Charlie’s farm, where the stories include the rooster (Sultan) and his harem (the hens), finding out that apple pie will burn your tongue, meeting the pigs, the goats, dairy cows, and swans. Marvin gets peeved because Shelby has been ignoring him too much, leading to a lot of apologies to all his friends. The animals bring holly and pine boughs to the farmer for decorations to thank him for his kind treatment of them as newcomers. They manage to steer Santa to the new meadow by quite ingenious means, helped by Charlie’s horse friends and the Wise Old Owl’s family. Shelby goes downhill on a sleigh, learns to swim, and he meets a young female flying squirrel. Their mothers wonder if Shelby has found a mate.
Shelby is now an almost grown-up flying squirrel, who has learned a lot and had fun doing it.
The Complete Adventures of SHELBY F SQUIRREL and Friends is available as an eBook on Amazon and Kobo, and in paperback in both colour and black and white in the CreateSpace eStore. The URLS for CreateSpace can be found on the author’s website.
Copyright © April 2014/March 2015 http://flutesandflyingsquirrels.com
The Author Showcase is a place for authors and illustrators to gain visibility for their works. This article was provided by the author of “The Complete Adventures of Shelby F Squirrel and Friends,” by Eleanor Lawrie. Learn more about marketing books and finding an Author Showcase book marketing plan that is right for you …