This gloriously wintery picture book reminded my of the earlier cold snap of weather the threat of snow. Corinne Felton’s lyrical language is perfect for this story of friendship between a young girl and a squirrel.
The story is a treasured memory, one which the main character Olivia has carried with her for a lifetime. A memory of park adventures with her beloved Nanny Clementine which taught her a lot about how to treat others with kindness and respect.
The pair enjoy many walks through Central Park, riding the carousel, admiring the views, crossing bridges and feeding squirrels. It is the squirrels however that capture Olivia’s heart, one in particular, that she names Scruffle-Nut. He doesn’t seem to fit in with the other squirrels. They growl at him and frequently exclude him from their games. The text and illustrations subtly suggest that Olivia feels like the squirrel in her class, she admires Scruffle-Nut’s bravery and cunning actions to outwit the others that bully him.
Owen Swan’s sketchy style illustrations of New York City are beautifully evocative, largely in muted colours and quite simply stunning. The graphics and poetic text collaborate perfectly to tell the story. The pictures adding elements and details that may otherwise have been missed by the reader.
Scruffle-Nut is perfect for the classroom or to read at home. A heart-warming way to discuss friendship and how to treat others kindly and with respect.