Many publishers are getting graphic novel imprints and it’s exciting to see new creators with a fresh look creating comics for kids. I’m especially pleased at the excellent offerings for beginning and intermediate readers, as I work a lot with this age group and they love comics!

This series starter comes from Random House Graphic and an experienced picture book creator, Mika Song. It’s an adorable story about two squirrels, Norma and Belly. Now, in the interest of honesty and my own experience, I have to say that squirrels are not like this in real life. But in the story, Norma and Belly, well, you’ll see.
One fall morning Norma wakes up Belly for pancakes. They’re in the middle of their pancake dance when disaster strikes—the pancakes burn! Belly is comforting Norma, when they smell a new smell. “It smells like crispy sugar, oil, and a hint of linden flowers.” Joined by all the hungry squirrels, Norma and Belly discover a food truck and doughnuts! They quickly hatch a plan to exchange chestnuts for doughnuts for all the squirrels, but it’s very complicated and involves roller skates, weevils, and a stopwatch.
Song’s artwork, which I have appreciated in her previous picture books, is a lovely accompaniment to this gentle and sweet story. Soft browns and greens fill the simple panels and quick, sketched lines and splashes of color fill in the tall and sneaky Norma, plump and kindly Belly, and all their squirrel friends in a rush of browns and quick lines. The little girl who inadvertently supplies the roller skates has a purple helmet, brown skin, and straight black hair. The doughnut machine purveyor is one of the most interesting side characters—his initially grouchy exterior, conveyed with a few quick lines on his face and downturned mouth, eventually cheers up as he discovers the squirrels’ present, and all ends happily with a flurry of brown squirrels and a colorful line of people looking for doughnuts. Subtle bits of humor, like Belly warning away the weevils, spot the pages and the spare, simple text fits well into the soft washes of color in the illustrations.
The aura of kindness and gentle humor that pervades this story will make it a favorite with sensitive young readers and anyone who likes watching the antics of squirrels. Hand to fans of Narwhal and Jelly, Elephant and Piggie and to readers not yet able to read Stick Dog. And don’t forget to pick up the sequels as Norma and Belly explore more potential food sources!

Donut Feed the Squirrels
By Mika Song
ISBN: 9781984895837
Random House Graphics, 2020

Title Details and Representation
NFNT Age Recommendation: Easy Readers (5-9)
Creator Highlights: Filipino-American

  • Jennifer

    | She/Her Youth Services Librarian, Matheson Memorial Library

    Reviewer

    Jennifer Wharton is the Youth Services Librarian at Matheson Memorial Library in Elkhorn, Wisconsin where she maintains the juvenile and young adult graphic novel collections and was responsible for creating the library’s adult graphic novel collection. She is constantly looking for great new comics for kids and teens and new ways to incorporate graphic storytelling in programming. Jennifer blogs for preschool through middle grade at JeanLittleLibrary and has an MLS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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