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Children's Fiction Squirrels

Scaredy Squirrel

illustrated by Melanie Watt

Kids Can Press
Initial publish date
Mar 2008
Squirrels, Humorous Stories, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2008
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2006
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 4 to 8
  • Grade: p to 3
  • Reading age: 4 to 8


Scaredy Squirrel never leaves his nut tree. It's way too dangerous out there. He could encounter tarantulas, green Martians or killer bees. But in his tree, every day is the same and if danger comes along, he's well-prepared. Scaredy Squirrel's emergency kit includes antibacterial soap, Band-Aids and a parachute.

Day after day he watches and waits, and waits and watches, until one day ... his worst nightmare comes true! Scaredy suddenly finds himself out of his tree, where germs, poison ivy and sharks lurk.

But as Scaredy Squirrel leaps into the unknown, he discovers something really uplifting ...

About the author

La jeune auteure-illustratrice Mélanie Watt, née à Trois-Rivières, a remporté pour son travail de prestigieuses récompenses, dont le Prix Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz, le Prix Blue Spruce et le Prix Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon, tous les trois pour Frisson l'écureuil.


It was in a design class taught by Michèle Lemieux at the University of Quebec in Montreal that author and illustrator Mélanie Watt created her first picture book, Leon the Chameleon, which was later published by Kids Can Press. Watt went on to create several more books, including the Learning with Animals collection and Augustine, which was named an ALA Notable Children's Book. Watt has also illustrated Where Does a Tiger-Heron Spend the Night? and Bearcub and Mama, which won the 2006 IRA Teachers” Choices Project.

Mélanie's best known book, Scaredy Squirrel, has won many awards, including the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children”s Book Award for Children”s Picture Book and the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator”s Award. The release of Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend was met with enthusiastic reviews and incredible sales, confirming the arrival of kid lit's newest superstar. Chester, Chester's Back! and Chester's Masterpiece are about a megalomaniac cat who is every bit the antithesis to Scaredy. Chester has already become a bestseller, and shows the breadth and creativity of Mélanie Watt.

Scaredy returns to take a few more tentative steps out of his comfort zone in Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach and Scaredy Squirrel at Night. Mélanie has often noted how the Scaredy Squirrel books helped her work out her own insecurities and fears, as the success of these titles has required her to venture out into the unknown, and like Scaredy she has found the experience truly uplifting.

Mélanie currently resides near Montreal, Quebec.


Melanie Watt's profile page


  • Winner, Illinois Monarch Award, Illinois School Library Media Association
  • Winner, Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Awards, Pennsylvania School Librarians Association
  • Short-listed, Children's Choice Picture Book Award, Washington Library Media
  • Winner, Libris Award - Children's Illustrator of the Year, Canadian Booksellers Association
  • Winner, Libris Award - Children's Author of the Year, Canadian Booksellers Association
  • Winner, North Carolina Children's Book Award
  • Winner, Shining Willow Award, Saskatchewan Young Readers' Choice
  • Winner, Black-Eyed Susan Award, Maryland Educational Media
  • Winner, Blue Spruce Award, Ontario Library Association
  • Winner, Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Award
  • Winner, Notable Children's Books in Language Arts, NCTE
  • Short-listed, Childrens' Choices, International Reading Association
  • Winner, Independent Publisher Book Awards - Bronze Medal
  • Short-listed, Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, Canadian Children's Book Centre
  • Short-listed, Best Read Aloud Book Award, Read Boston
  • Winner, Notable Children's Books, ALA
  • Winner, Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator's Award
  • Winner, Great Book of the Year, Canadian Toy Testing Council
  • Short-listed, Book of the Year Award, ForeWord Magazine
  • Runner-up, Best Read Aloud Book Award, ReadBoston
  • Winner, Le Prix de la Librarie Millepage (in Vincennes, France)
  • Winner, Cybils - Children's and YA Bloggers' Literacy Awards
  • Commended, Summer Pick, Children's Book Sense

Editorial Reviews

Readers of any age will chuckle with recognition at the squirrel's attempts to control his life.

Quill & Quire

Youngsters will go nuts over this one.

Publishers Weekly

Watts conveys a difficult theme ... with an energetic playfulness ... (Scaredy Squirrel is) a masterful balance of charm, comedy and serious realism.

Toronto Star

Bound to win over its readers, parent and child, at the outset with its wry wit.

The National Post

With his iconic nervous grin and over-the-top punctiliousness, Scaredy Squirrel is an endearing character.

School Library Journal

The bold, inviting compositions ... and paint-box colors ... add energy.

Horn Book

Librarian Reviews

Scaredy Squirrel

Mélanie Watt originally planned to become a veterinarian. Instead, she brings her fascination with animals to her colourful children’s books. The delightful Scaredy Squirrel introduces us to an endearing worrywart who has settled into a (fairly) comfortable routine in his familiar oak tree. The unknown world outside his tree is rife with threats, both real and imagined – everything from bees to sharks. But Scaredy is nothing if not prepared. His life unfolds in careful itemized lists throughout the book: the pros and cons of staying in the tree, his daily routine, his lists of dangers, the lists of remedies in his always-ready emergency kit.

Yet despite his best preparations, events overtake him in an unexpected and utterly glorious way. Does his leap into the unknown provide life-altering changes? Well, sort of. After all, Watt has to remain true to her obsessive little character and she celebrates even the small epiphanies and victories. Watt’s artwork is acrylic with her characteristic strong outlines in charcoal pencil. Here, unlike her previous work, the hard-edged lines are bordered with white, giving the shapes a more delicate, more 3-D, almost collage quality. The font, called ‘potato cut,’ has a hand-crafted quality that complements Watt’s illustrations. Watt makes brilliant use of split screen grids, slide-like frames and a surprise fold-out. Because graphics accompany all the words, even in the lists, the books will appeal to pre-readers and assist in word association.

The humour and irony work on many different levels. Parents and teachers will find the tale rich in jumping-off points for activities and talking about planning, decisionmaking, matching (threats and remedies), sifting (probable from farfetched), even telling time.

According to the jacket copy, Mélanie Watt follows a strict routine and never leaves her home. Like Scaredy, she is afraid of sharks.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Summer 2006. Vol.29 No. 3.

Scaredy Squirrel

Scaredy Squirrel never leaves his nut tree – it’s too dangerous out there. But one day, the endearing, neurotic worrywart leaps into the unknown, and discovers something uplifting...

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Canadian Children’s Book News. 2007.

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