Saturday, January 23, 2021

Tasty Tradeoff! Donut Feed the Squirrels by Mika Song

When Norma the squirrel tries to surprise her friend Belly with fresh cooked pancakes, she lets them burn!

"We could use one for a Frisbee!" suggests Belly.

But before they can try a pancake toss, the two squirrels are distracted by an intriguing smell, sugary with an exotic overtone. Following their noses, they are led to a food truck, where they see a girl skate up, pull out a dollar bill, and skate off happily eating her donut.

The two squirrels decide that it's donuts or bust for them. Being honest squirrels, they rustle up a bunch of chestnuts to trade for the donuts. But before they can make the deal, the driver pulls out a surprise spray bottle and drenches both of them. With their fur now frizzy, the two decide it's no more nice guy. The truce is over. This is WAR!

A quick surveillance reveals that the only apparent way into the interior of the food truck is down the small chimney. The driver decides to take a break and locks up the truck. Now's their chance! Norma tells Belly to jump down the chimney.

"Wait! Why Do I have to jump down the chimney? asks Belly.

BRAVE!" says Norma.

"Okay. Continue," says Belly.

"Then open the door and let me in!" says Norma.

Inside the food truck Belly begins a trial run of the donut machine, but finds his donut a bit bland. He tries adding the hazelnuts they brought along to trade--without taking off the shells! The machine goes wild and starts kicking out fried hazelnuts encased in donut dough. Belly tries to dodge the flying hazelnut balls, and the truck fills up with nutty donuts as he realizes there's no way to open the door!

In a hilarious graphic comic novel, author-illustrator Mika Song makes good use of the old runaway machine trope, and all's well that ends well in her latest, Donut Feed the Squirrels (Norma and Belly) Random House, 2020). With illustrator Song's charmingly-drawn wispy squirrels as heroes, kids willl love the readable graphic novel style and the limited text in this story that ends happily with all the chestnut-flavored donuts the two impromptu chefs and their friends can eat and a new menu item for the food truck guy to boot. Booklist gives this one a starred review, saying, "Their antics are divided into five short chapters that young readers can read with confidence, and the sweet ending unquestionably satisfies.”

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