Cover image for The squirrel wife
The squirrel wife
Pearce, Philippa.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : T. Y. Crowell, [1971]
Physical Description:
61 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Added Author:
Format :

On Order



For saving the life of one of the green people, Jack is blessed with the love and knowledge of a squirrel-wife.

Author Notes

Ann Philippa Pearce was born in Great Shelford, Cambridgeshire, England on January 23, 1920. She studied English and history at Girton College at Cambridge University. After graduating, she worked for the Board of Trade, then the Ministry of Information, before moving to the BBC to write scripts for the Schools Broadcasting Department. In 1958, she left the BBC to work as an editor for the Clarendon Press before becoming a children's book editor at Andre Deutsch two years later. She became a full-time author in the mid-1960s.

She wrote more than 30 books including Minnow on the Say, A Dog So Small, The Children of the House, The Elm Street Lot, The Squirrel Wife, The Way to Sattin Shore, Emily's Own Elephant, Freddy, Old Belle's Summer Holiday, Here Comes Tod, and The Little Gentleman. She received the Carnegie Medal for Tom's Midnight Garden in 1958 and the Whitbread Prize for Bubble and Squeak in 1978. Tom's Midnight Garden was adapted for radio, theater, television, and film. She was appointed to the Order of the British Empire in 1997 for her service to children's literature. She died after suffering a stroke on December 21, 2006 at the age of 86.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

This posthumously published, original fairy tale from the author of the Carnegie Medal-winning Tom's Midnight Garden (1958) is based on a radio serial Pearce wrote for the BBC. Jack, a pig herder, disobeys his unkind older brother and ventures into a forest, where he finds and rescues a small green man. The man's grateful community of green folk gives Jack a gift: a human wife whose squirrel-like understanding of trees helps Jack begin a thriving furniture business. When his jealous brother threatens his new happiness, the green people offer help, and Jack is forced to choose between love and magic. The episodic story is too long for some story hours, and young listeners may wish for more specifics, especially about the green people and their world. But Anderson's mixed-media illustrations strengthen the story's connections while amplifying the sense of enchantment with images of the elfin, lime-colored folk and the forest scenes, rendered in feathery strokes and an earthy green palette of moss and mushrooms. An intriguing, atmospheric offering.--Engberg, Gillian Copyright 2007 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

With consummate skill, the late author of the British classic Tom's Midnight Garden duplicates the pitch and vocabulary of a time-tested fairy tale in this original story. Rewarded by the "green people" with a wife who knows the forest as intimately as the squirrel she really is, Jack finds happiness. But when his cruel brother arouses the suspicions of the villagers, Jack and the squirrel wife must shield each other. Anderson's (Dragonology) delicately stippled colored pencil illustrations, while distinctly contemporary in their palette and angularity, have something of the feeling of medieval portraits. Dressed in jerkins and breeches, the characters appear full-face or else at right angles to the viewer, proceeding stiffly across the page, fingers outspread. The massive trees of the forest that lie at the literal and figurative heart of the story materialize as if out of a mist. Pearce's tale unfurls at a leisurely pace, allowing readers to relish its moments of magic: "She could lay her hand upon a tree and tell its age exactly, even before Jack had cut it down and counted its year rings." Blending enchantment, quiet heroism and a good comeuppance, this hypnotic tale is memorable also for the currents of loss that enable its happy ending. Ages 5-8. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 1-4-Pearce's original fairy tale, first published in 1971, has been reissued with new illustrations. The descriptive narrative tells how Jack, the younger of two brothers, goes into the forest against his brother's wishes to investigate a nocturnal cry for help. He saves one of the fabled "green people" and is rewarded with a gold ring that he must place upon the paw of a newborn female squirrel. The creature, when full grown, takes on a human form and becomes Jack's wife. When his jealous brother, learning that he is happily married and prospering, reports him as a thief and has him jailed, Jack's squirrel wife finds a way to set him free and ensure their continued happiness. Using colored pencil, acrylic ink, and watercolor, Anderson has painstakingly created enchanted sylvan and town settings that carry out the fairy-tale theme of the story. Into each scene he has placed primitive-style people and tiny woodland animals. The illustrations have a textured, layered look and vary in size, some covering a full page or spread, while others are smaller, and encircled by twining, flowering vines. Children who like stories about wee folk and magic will enjoy this classic British tale.-Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.