Dorothy A. Wyatt tells the story of a little squirrel lost—and returned—in the children’s picture book The Adventure of Harwood Squirrel.
Harwood, a baby squirrel, grows up playing in familiar woods with his brother Garwood; their only fear is the big brown dog that occasionally chases them. A nice woman feeds them daily. “Life was easy./ Life was good,” Wyatt writes. Then one day, running from the dog, Harwood hides in the moving truck the woman has hired. Harwood soon finds himself in unknown territory. Now, “Life was not easy./ Life was not good.” But after a scary night, the nice lady traps him in a cage and returns him to his old home, freeing him into the woods. Once again, “Life was GOOD.”
Wyatt’s book is colorfully illustrated, although the art lacks the creativity and flair of the best picture books. The story is pleasant and her main character, Harwood, is appealing and easy to root for.
Meant to be an “easy reader,” the book uses short, simple sentences, and repeats certain words and terms across multiple pages. For example: “He loved to play with Garwood./ Harwood and Garwood loved to run/ up, up the tall,, [sic] tall trees./ Harwood and Garwood loved to run/ Down, down the tall, tall trees.”
As a means of reinforcing the sounds and meanings of simple words to young readers, this is effective, but inconsistent punctuation and capitalization, as seen in the example above, can be jarring. On the other hand, Wyatt’s technique of capitalizing words to emphasize them works well. When Harwood is released back to his home, she writes: “Harwood tried to get out./AND HE COULD!”
The heavy repetition of the book might grow tiresome for readers older than 7 or 8, but younger readers will find the reiteration of words comforting and should enjoy The Adventure of Harwood Squirrel.