Donut Feed the Squirrels (Norma and Belly) by Mika Song
In serious contention for Best Children’s Book Title of the Year is Donut Feed the Squirrels. The title's clever play on words and adorable characters featured on the cover are instant attention-getters. Song eschews drawing anatomically accurate squirrels. Instead her art perfectly captures the essence of Norma with her tiny heart-shaped nose and Belly's rosy cheeks and gumdrop-shaped body.
These little charmers are in search of breakfast. When their pancakes are burned, the pair are intrigued by the tantalizing aroma from a nearby food truck. They discover a fantastic treat: donuts!
The squirrels are determined to get donuts for everyone. Fortunately the proprietor of the mobile donutmobile briefly steps away from his truck. The enterprising duo have eight minutes to get in, get a sackful of donuts, and get out. There is a major complication. With a plot element that is an homage to the classic Homer Price doughnut machine fiasco, there is an equipment failure. Production is out of control. The shop rapidly becomes a doughy disaster.
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The art is a prime example that less can indeed be more. Simple, effective brush strokes allow the readers to add their own subtext to the tale. Limited color palette and soft pastel colors keep the focus on the squirrels.
The pictorial foreshadowing is ingeniously positioned throughout the story. Readers should pay close attention to all the visual cues. They will show up later in the narrative.
Norma and Belly’s exploits are a delicious treat. More squirrelly adventures please.