By: E.K. McCoy
Illustrated by: Ghazal Qadri
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: April 5, 2022
Reviewed by: Katie Specht
Review Date: March 1, 2022
From author E.K. McCoy comes a sweet children’s story, Allie the Albino Squirrel. McCoy’s story focuses on a squirrel named Allie who looks different than the rest of her family because she has white fur.
Allie’s first day of kindergarten is fast approaching and she is finding herself becoming very anxious. She is worried about what her classmates will think of her because she looks different. The night before school begins, Allie’s mom can tell something is wrong and she asks Allie what is troubling her. Allie explains her concerns to her mom, who proceeds to tell her that it doesn’t matter what others think of her fur, because what she looks like does not encompass all that she is. Rather, she has many endearing qualities that help to make her the squirrel that she is, including being silly, generous, and caring. This conversation with her mom helps alleviate some of Allie’s first day jitters, and she goes to bed that night feeling better about the situation.
The next day, Allie enters her classroom at school and quickly finds a seat, while hoping that no one notices her white fur. Allie’s teacher, Mr. Hoot, is friendly and makes the morning of learning so fun that Allie forgets about her fears. When lunchtime arrives, Allie begins to feel nervous again as she wonders who she will sit with and talk to during lunch. One of her classmates named Bree asks Allie if she can sit with her, and they begin talking and quickly become friends. Before lunch is over, Bree asks Allie how she got her fur to be so white and pretty. Allie is shocked by this comment, because she had never thought of her fur as pretty before. When she thinks about it for a moment, she realizes that since she has always been so busy worrying about being different, she never stopped to consider that her white fur is pretty, and she actually likes it.
Bree and Allie play together at recess and enjoy the rest of the school day. When it’s time to go home, they say goodbye and excitedly comment that they will see each other tomorrow. On the walk home from school with her mom, Allie shares her good news that she made a friend. Allie’s mom is very proud of her. From that day forward, Allie no longer worries about her fur color, instead embracing her uniqueness.
This story of Allie worrying about being different is a concept to which all kids can relate. It can be a challenge to accept one’s differences, especially for children. Having accessible, relatable stories that display and embrace a character’s diversity can often make all the difference to a child who may be struggling with this concept in his/her own life.
The illustrations are fun and whimsical, integrating what appear to be some real photographs and illustrated drawings. This is a unique illustration method for children’s books.
The message of Allie the Albino Squirrel is a significant one that parents and children alike will appreciate. A few critiques of the book must be noted, however. For a children’s book, it is quite wordy, and young readers with a short attention span may have a hard time paying attention to the entire story. Additionally, there were minor editing issues including comma and apostrophe misuse. These errors were not enough to undermine the story, but they were there, nonetheless.
Quill says: Allie the Albino Squirrel is a heart-warming children’s story of embracing your own diversity and being proud of who you are. For children, this is one of the most important lessons they can learn.
For more information on Allie the Albino Squirrel, please visit the author's Instagram page.