Book Review: Scaredy Squirrel by Mélanie Watt, in Scaredy Squirrel Series Title 1

by DerdriuMarriner

Scaredy Squirrel is title #1 in Mélanie Watt's Scaredy Squirrel series. The Kids Can Press picture book shares a Canadian flying squirrel's nutty adventure.

Scaredy Squirrel models writing short biographies, plot summaries:

The Scaredy Squirrel series accedes to a launch date of 2006. Scaredy Squirrel begins a pattern for subsequent installments with:
• nutshell plot summary, plot complication, and three content questions on the front flap, with reader suitability advisory (excluding Martians in this case);
• safety measure (hand-washing with anti-bacterial soap) on prefatory pages; and
• writer profile on the rear flap, with mention of a fear (sharks in this example) and relevant experiences from her Montréal area home in Québec, Canada, and a self-portrait at work amid wall art.

The front and rear covers respectively convey a theme-dressed Scaredy posing with a big, friendly, 16-tooth grin and an iconic representation of the storyline (killer bees [Apis mellifera] in this instance).




Scaredy Squirrel, identified as number 6, amidst other storybook toys, such as Stillwater the Panda (#4) from Zen Shorts

Mr. Schu's "Toys"

Scaredy Squirrel role-models daily routines and disaster preparedness


Scaredy's name perfectly describes a squirrel who dislikes venturing from the nest-hole of his acorn-rich oak tree (Quercus spp). He thereby expects to avoid life's terrors: 

  • germs; 
  • green Martians; 
  • killer bees;
  • poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans);
  • sharks (Selachimorpha superorder); and
  • tarantulas (Theraphosidae family). 

He finds his stay-at-home life cycles and natural histories advantageous and disadvantageous because of the boringly comfortable predictability of daily schedules, 6:45 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., devoted to eating the same abundant nuts and enjoying the same great view from the same safe shelter. He nevertheless gives allowance for serendipity through:

  • an emergency kit;
  • an escape plan of panicking before donning the emergency kit;
  • an exit plan of four routes; and
  • fail-safe measures playing dead. 


Scaredy Squirrel's encounter with a killer bee segues into learning how to avoid poison ivy.

killer bee: adult Apis mellifera scutellata in Florida
killer bee: adult Apis mellifera scutellata in Florida

Scaredy Squirrel runs into the unplanned during emergencies


But the unexpected sight of a killer bee so horrifies Scaredy at 9:30 a.m. one Thursday that the emergency kit -- packed with antibacterial soap, band-aid, bug spray, calamine lotion, hard hat, mask, net, parachute, rubber gloves, sardines-filled tin -- falls into poison ivy. Scaredy is headed after it before he can stop himself. He judges it nothing short of miraculous to realize that falls may not be fatal or injurious for flying squirrels! He knows glorious glides before landing in a bush and playing dead for two hours. The self-knowledge leads Scaredy to memorialize the adventure with revised routines accommodating glides at 9:37 a.m. and playing dead from 9:45 to 11:45 a.m. at the landing site. 


Scaredy Squirrel discovers innate gliding abilities to escape poison ivy ~

Oregon Flying Squirrel (Pteromys oregonensis): illustration by John James Audubon (April 26, 1785 – January 27, 1851)
J.J. Audubon, The Quadrupeds of North America, Vol. I (1851), Plate XV, opp. p. 132
J.J. Audubon, The Quadrupeds of North America, Vol. I (1851), Plate XV, opp. p. 132

Scaredy Squirrel Series title #1 showcases fact, fiction


Two flying squirrel species make North America their home: 

  • Glaucomys sabrinus of Central and North America (Canada, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, U.S.A.); and
  • Glaucomys volans of Canada and the United States of America. 

The first-mentioned northern and second-mentioned southern fliers number among mammals inhabiting mixed forest habitats including Scaredy's favorite oak. Northern fliers nevertheless operate by reclusive, Scaredy-type behaviors. 

Scaredy Squirrel provides -- for pre-kindergarteners to third-graders aged 4 to 8 years -- culturally enriching, educationally entertaining insights into an American flying squirrel's imagined adventures, thanks to: 

  • Kids Can Press Ltd. of Toronto, Canada, and Tonawanda, New York; 
  • Karen Powers, designer;
  • Tara Walker, editor; and 
  • Mélanie Watt, author/illustrator of the Potato Cut-set text's acrylic and charcoal pencil artwork. 


Scaredy Squirrel by Mélanie Watt ~ available via Amazon

Scaredy Squirrel never leaves his nut tree. It's way too dangerous out there. One day his worst nightmare comes true! Scaredy suddenly finds himself out of his tree.
Scaredy Squirrel


My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.


Southern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys volans): one of only two New World species of flying squirrels

Southern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys volans) snacks on sunflower seeds at birdfeeder.
Southern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys volans) snacks on sunflower seeds at birdfeeder.

Sources Consulted: Scardy Squirrel books sell in English and French


Audubon, John James. 1851. The Quadrupeds of North America. Vol. I. New York: V.G. Audubon.

  • Available via Biodiversity Heritage Library at:

Watt, Mélanie. 2006. Scaredy Squirrel. Scaredy Squirrel Series Title #1. Toronto, Ontario, Canada; and Tonawanda, NY, USA: Kids Can Press. 


Northern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus)

photo by Bob Cherry/National Park Service
photo by Bob Cherry/National Park Service
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

"How will you ever know whether you're a flying squirrel if you don't give it a shot?" ~ poster available via AllPosters

cartoon by New Yorker artist Charles Branum Barsotti (Sep. 28, 1933 – June 16, 2014)
"How will you ever know whether you're a flying squirrel if you don't give…" - New Yorker Cartoon

Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 03/16/2015, DerdriuMarriner
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