Axel Scheffler - How to Keep a Pet Squirrel (2 stars)

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Axel Scheffler - How to Keep a Pet Squirrel

(Faber)

The cover of this book is savagely misleading. A red squirrel on a trapeze? The pages within are bound, then, to be full of imaginary and unlikely pranks which this most beloved yet endangered of countryside creatures might get up to? Well, no, it’s a crashingly disappointing manual of tips on, well, how to keep a pet squirrel.

Having beautifully rendered the words of Julia Donaldson in wonderful animation for children’s classics such as The Gruffalo, Monkey Puzzle and Room on the Broom, Axel Scheffler’s slight book obviously looks like another winner, but has little of the invention, wit and tension which have made Donaldson a household name. Instead, we are simply informed about the foodstuffs squirrels enjoy and the best way to maintain a suitable cage. If ever there was an instance of someone dipping their toe unwisely into a pool of someone else’s expertise, then this is it.

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