This square, small format picture book exudes energy and confidence and is full of pictorial jokes. At the same time, it is an understanding depiction, a self help manual almost, for small children who are scared to venture out into the world and make friends because they fear, like Scaredy Squirrel, that it is a frightening place where they could encounter someone dangerous – a piranha perhaps or Godzilla – who will bite them.
When he does decide to venture down from his tree, Scaredy Squirrel has in place two things that he imagines will keep him safe. The first is that he looks spick and span, ready to make ‘the perfect first impression’ and the second is a plan of escape should he encounter a ‘potential biter’. In fact he meets someone totally unexpected and the ideas that have kept him a lonely prisoner for so long, evaporate.
Watt’s vigorous, cartoon style illustrations show us Squirrel’s careful and inhibited plans, aerial views of the dangerous territory surrounding his tree and dramatic close-ups. Great art they are not but they are witty and energetic and small children, scaredy or no, will love this book.