This is the most adorable book I’ve read in quite a while – I mean, just look at that cute cover!
Book: The Squirrel Squire and the Tournament of Oaks by Erik DeLeo
Read before: No
Ownership: E-book provided by the author for fair review. All opinions my own.
Release date: December 31st, 2018. Available in paperback or Kindle ebook from Amazon (affiliate link). Universal link here.
I was an enormous Redwall fan growing up (I once met Brian Jacques and he answered my question about bats and told me I was clever!), so when I saw The Squirrel Squire pop up on my Twitter feed I was instantly intrigued. Who doesn’t love adorable animals mixed with exciting high fantasy adventures? The world here is not a secondary fantasy world like Redwall, but somehow the writing manages to capture that simultaneously cozy and daring feeling, while creating a whole new squirrel society that I’d love to read more about.
Our hero is Puff, a small grey squirrel, who is squire to the very impressive Sir Pattercloud. But then, just before the annual tournament where Sir Pattercloud is meant to represent Clan Gray against the other squirrel clans, he goes missing. And the circumstances are very suspicious after some nasty threats from one of the other clan leaders, the evil Scratchclaw. Puff has to race against time to find his mentor and save the day – and hopefully he won’t have to fight in the tournament himself…
I loved Puff from the get-go. He’s so sweet, and I loved watching how he gained self-confidence as his journey progressed. Just the image of him struggling to train with Sir Pattercloud’s big old sword when he’s so small – aww! He’s a real testament to being able to push through fear to become stronger. His pals Tinderbug (a brown squirrel) and Nibbles (a chipmunk) are really great characters too, who support Puff, but also aren’t afraid to stand up to him when he’s wallowing – I thought this was a really nice depiction of friendship. And they’re both female, which is my favourite way to make up an MG trio, as I’ve mentioned before! Hooray for well-faceted women.
There’s a great sense of tension as the tournament nears, and I found myself flipping through the pages more and more quickly, hoping for Puff to succeed. I really liked the scenes with Blabberbit, the squirrel fortuneteller – she was a really interesting force in getting Puff to have a little bit of faith in himself, and she made me laugh with her matter-of-fact way of looking at destiny, especially towards the end. I was also really intrigued by the wild squirrels’ relationship with The Confined, who live behind bars – I hope this is an idea that gets revisited in later books, as it’s really interesting world-building.
Overall, if you’re looking for a fun and adorable read with a lovely message about believing in yourself, The Squirrel Squire fits the bill perfectly! With fairly short chapters, it would make great bedtime reading – if you can make yourself stop at the chapter breaks. Five out of five cats from me, and I’m eagerly awaiting the next book in the series, which is about a Cat Ninja!