It’s not a laugh out loud text but Dave Lowe provides his narrator with a superb and highly entertaining voice that makes this book almost addictive. Recommended for children 7+.
Ten year old Walter Kettle is an ordinary boy until he eats a nut. Then he transforms into unlikely superhero Squirrel Boy whose only superpowers seem to be a large bushy tail, an ability to climb trees and run very fast, and a sudden understanding of Squirrelish (the language used by squirrels). In his second adventure, we join Walter to find out whether these unusual powers will be enough to defeat the determined Squirrel Hunter and save the squirrel population in the local park.
This is a great concept (apparently Walter gained his super powers when he was bitten on the bottom by a radioactive squirrel) and a nice twist on a traditional superhero story. Other superheroes have cool sidekicks, complex technical gadgets and spend their time saving the world. Walter, in contrast, has to rely on batty seventy-three year old Mrs Onions to help him. His most technical gadget is a piece of rope and a dog biscuit filled with sleeping tablets. And, instead of saving the world, in this story he is trying to catch the local bike thieves and prevent the evil Auberon Steyn adding to his collection of squirrel tails.
It’s not a laugh out loud text but Dave Lowe provides his narrator with a superb and highly entertaining voice that makes this book almost addictive. From the opening descriptions of how dog owners frequently resemble their pets to the ultimate confrontation with the Squirrel Hunter, I smiled almost every time I turned a page. Indeed, I suspect it’s impossible not to enjoy the scenes where the narrator kindly translates the click-click-clickety-click of Squirrelish so we can understand Walter’s conversation with his new squirrel friend. I certainly couldn’t resist a giggle when I found this squirrel’s name translated as ‘Trevor’.
The story also includes some great scenarios. My personal favourites are the scenes with Walter’s mum who is desperate to discover the identity of Squirrel Boy so she can unmask him on her blog. I really enjoyed the way Walter squirmed when she told him she thought she’d be able to identify the superhero from a photograph of his jumper. I also loved it when, on his night-time adventure to challenge the Squirrel Hunter in the park, hapless Walter was rescued by a group of protestors led by his Mum. (Luckily she doesn’t recognise him.)
Illustrated in comic style panels by Cate James, the illustrations are fun and I particularly liked the way they integrated so seamlessly with the text. Chapter Eleven, for example, consists of just four words each accompanied by a cartoon.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this story and I’m confident that the target audience (children aged roughly 7-9) will too. If you enjoyed this, why not try the classic George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl
Date: May 2015
Publisher: Phoenix Yard Books
Author’s Website: Dave Lowe
Review first published on The Bookbag