Review Blog

Oct 17 2019

Scruffle-Nut by Corinne Fenton

cover image

Illus. by Owen Swan. New Frontier, 2019. ISBN: 9781925594768. 32pg.
(Age: 5+) Recommended. Themes: Bullying, Difference, Winter, Squirrels, Loneliness. This is a picture book with ideas and images that have kept drifting back to me since I first picked it up! Pictures of the snow swirling through the air as a little girl with glasses, Olivia, watches a squirrel with a stumpy tail in a quiet park and thoughts about bullying in both the human and the animal world have popped up again and again. The book opens with a scene of an old woman sitting in a park remembering when Nanny Clementine took her to the big park in the middle of the city. She recalls watching the squirrels, who bullied the scruffy little squirrel with the stumpy tail, chasing him away from food and leaving him behind. This mirrors the actions of three little girls from her school, who whisper behind their hands about her. She names the little squirrel Scruffle-Nut 'because he's wise and brave and strong', and the other squirrels the Bully-Bunch, and Swan's illustrations show the little girl becoming braver with the human Bully-Bunch that she faces at school.
The themes of bullying and difference are handled gently, with Swan's drawings perfectly complementing the text and adding to the narrative. It is a book that could easily be overlooked because of its muted colours, but is one that a parent or teacher could well use to highlight the importance of being kind and one for children to read quietly to themselves and think about difference and how to avoid bullies.
Corinne Fenton writes about how the book came into being on her blog.
Pat Pledger

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