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Greenleaf Book Group
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The Great Squirrel Burglar

In The Great Squirrel Burglar, authors Mary Ellen Graham Wehrli and J. Lawrence Graham present us with an engaging story and charming illustrations for children, parents, and grandparents that teach the importance of multigenerational relationships and the worthy (and delightful!) lessons we learn from family. Alongside the “squirrely” characters of Grandpa Earl—aka the legendary Great Squirrel Burglar—and his “grandkit” Jack Boy, children and their families will go on a delightful journey to help Grandpa Earl solve the mystery of where he’s hidden his missing nuts and acorns. Joining Earl and his grandson are Carl the Cardinal, the fabulous feline Catrina, Spot the hound dog, Babbit the Rabbit, and more! This captivating cast of wildlife friends adds color and fun to The Great Squirrel Burglar, which teaches children about the joy (and excitement!) that older generations can add to their families.

In Wehrli and Graham’s sweet picture book, a young squirrel named Jack Boy learns the value of family after spending a day with his Grandpa Earl. At first, Jack insists he has better things to do than hang out with his forgetful grandfather, whose tail is crooked and gray, and who always asks the same question: “Have you seen my acorns ‘n’ nuts? I can’t remember where I hid them.” But his mother insists, in the book’s fun-to-repeat dialogue, that Jack do his duty: “One day, your own grandkits will help you when your tail gets a bit crooked and gray. That’s the way families work and how they stay strong,” she tells her son, and the story that follows reminds Jack Boy and readers that there’s always more to discover about the squirrels—or people—you love.

Wehrli’s dreamlike illustrations help bring this outdoorsy generational tale to life. The story takes place in the middle of winter, and the muted, soft-hued images seem to exist in a foggy, somewhat dreary land of endless frosty mornings. At first, Jack’s day with Earl goes as expected. They travel around the strikingly rendered forest, asking animals if they know the location of the missing feed while Jack deals with his frustration at his grandfather’s slowness—but when his cousin Stevie jumps out and tries to scare them, Jack is impressed that Earl does not even flinch. Eventually they learn a welcome surprise: grandpa used to be known as the Great Squirrel Burglar.

Jack’s discovery will invite kids to delve deeper into the fascinating histories of the older people in their own lives. Wehrli’s art makes Grandpa Earl’s inspiring surprise stand out even more, as his superhero costume provides a pop of color and a jolt of excitement to go along with Jack Boy’s growing awareness that even in his old age, his grandfather still has a lot to offer.

Takeaway: A young squirrel learns the value of family after spending a day with his Grandpa.

Great for fans of: Margaret Mason’s These Hands, Lisa Tawn Bergren’s Nana the Great Comes to Visit.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A