Friday, December 30, 2016

Book Review: Squirrel Hotel

Title: Squirrel Hotel

Author: William Pène du Bois

Date: 1952

Publisher: Viking

ISBN: none

Length: 48 pages

Illustrations: drawings by the author

Quote: “Do you really like squirrels?”

The narrator of this story, a young writer, met an eccentric old man who told him that the old man had built a full-sized Squirrel Hotel and that squirrels had actually stayed in it long enough to play with the gadgets he built in. If the young man liked squirrels enough, the old man promised, one day he’d show the young man where the Squirrel Hotel was and leave it to him. But then several days went by when the old man didn’t come to the place where they had been meeting...and readers are left to wonder whether the whole purpose of the story was to share an idea for a toy William Pène du Bois thought it might be fun to build, or at least to draw.

As with many of Pène du Bois’s early, whimsical books, the main attraction is the drawings. Here the old man is drawn in a lifelike style, and the miniature hotel for the squirrels is a very lifelike model house children might want to make. Whether squirrels would care to stay in it, or whether it would make a good setting for (depending on its proportions) a collection of dolls or stuffed animals, the author leaves child readers to find out.

If you buy this book for a child, be prepared for “Why don’t you make one for me?” or, depending on the age of the child, “Can I make one?”

This is another book I stupidly sold, in real life, before checking its current price on Amazon. It's gone into the collector price range. To buy it here will cost $20 per book + $5 per package + $1 per online payment, and although that would mean $2.50 for the author or a charity of his choice, if he were still alive, it no longer means anything to the author. If you're adding it to a package, because it's a thin book and we charge only one shipping fee per package, sending payment to this web site will save some money over sending payment to Amazon. If you're buying only this individual book, you pay less and in theory I get a small commission if you use the photo link to buy it directly from Amazon. Your call, Gentle Readers. Scroll down, though, to find Fair Trade Books whose authors actually profit if you buy them here.