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the Complete Review
the complete review - children's fiction

The Squirrel's Birthday

Toon Tellegen

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To purchase The Squirrel's Birthday

Title: The Squirrel's Birthday
Author: Toon Tellegen
Genre: Stories
Written: 1995 (Eng. 2009)
Length: 147 pages
Original in: Dutch
Availability: The Squirrel's Birthday - US
The Squirrel's Birthday - UK
The Squirrel's Birthday - Canada
The Squirrel's Birthday - India
L'Anniversaire de l'écureuil - France
Eichhorn und Ameise feiern Geburtstag - Deutschland
Il compleanno dello scoiattolo - Italia
La fiesta de cumpleaños - España
  • and Other Parties
  • Dutch title: De verjaardag van de eekhoorn
  • Translated by Martin Cleaver
  • With illustrations by Jessica Ahlberg

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Our Assessment:

B : simple, quite charming

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       The Squirrel's Birthday collects nine stories featuring animal protagonists -- all getting along, and all getting together, as these stories all involve parties or similar social get-togethers. The title piece has the squirrel throwing a big birthday bash for himself, for example, inviting all the animals over. In another story a seagull pens a note for the whale:

     Dear Whale,
     I'm not sure if you exist, but I'm inviting you to my party anyway. Tomorrow on the beach. If you exist, will you come ?
               The seagull
       In 'The Costume Party' the squirrel's costumes prove too true-to-life, as he is turned away repeatedly for being too successful in his disguises ("Ant, you can only come in if you're wearing a costume", the host explains the first time). The most charming invention has a grasshopper invited to a leopard's very exclusive and fine party, and searching for just the right touch to complete his distinguished look -- finally finding it in an exorbitantly expensive speck of dust he buys from the bumblebee's shop, allowing him to brush it airily from his shoulder when he makes his grand entrance.
       With many small but finely drawn and colored illustrations by Jessica Ahlberg, this is an appealing little collection of slightly quirky and sweet stories. Intentionally even more unrealistic than the usual animals-all-getting-along story -- with snails paired with giraffes, and whales going to the same parties as ants, and everything in between -- there are some other oddities to this world, such as the fact that each animal seems to exist only for itself, both representative of its species as well as individuals: there are no families here, for example.
       Gentle but surprising -- and with a fill of images to enjoy -- this presumably is a satisfying volume for the younger set (around five would seem to be the recommendation). As for the adults: there's enough clever invention to at least amuse, and one story -- 'A Speck of Dust' -- is a beautiful stand-out.

- M.A.Orthofer, 18 November 2011

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The Squirrel's Birthday: Reviews: Toon Tellegen: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Dutch author Toon Tellegen was born in 1941.

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