Would you know what to do if you found a baby squirrel?
This is the subject of a new children’s book, written by nature author Jennifer Keats Curtis, with the guidance of wildlife rehabilitator Christina Clark of Chris’s Squirrels & More in Somers.
In the book Squirrel Rescue, a baby squirrel has fallen out of his nest and suddenly interrupts a game of catch. Knowing what to do, the two boys demonstrate how to handle the animal properly and what to do when they find the squirrel's sibling. Placing them safely in a box, the two boys retreat to the house so as not to scare the mother away while she recovers her babies.
Curtis said that this book is based on a real incident, where a baby squirrel came out and jumped on a little boy who was playing ball in her neighborhood in Maryland.
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According to Curtis, while much of what is in the books is fiction, what she writes about the animals – and how to deal with them – is real.
For Curtis, making sure that the facts of the story are accurate is very important. She said that Clark really vetted the story to make sure the story was correct.
“That’s why working with someone like Chris is so important,” she said.
She said that Clark was also instrumental in helping put all this information into words and how to describe the animals and their actions.
Illustrator Laura Jacques, who lives in Cromwell, also likes to do everything realistically and has to have every detail done perfectly. She said that there is a lot of research and dedication in getting the details right.
Jacques said that she studies pictures and videos, and if possible, will check out in person what she’s drawing.
For Jacques, teaching children about what to do with animals is a timely topic.
“We’ve so encroached on the wild areas that a lot of the animals are coming into the neighborhoods and they’re just lost and confused and it’s even more of an important time to help kids know how to deal with animals,” she said.
Curtis said that she sees her writing as an opportunity to help kids understand the best way to take care of wild animals when they make contact with humans.
“I find that if you tell kids a story and your lesson is housed in the story, they’re much more likely to remember that than me just telling them,” she said. “That’s the angle I go about with all my stories.”