With its nutty conceit, retro aesthetic (these sets could be from the ’50s), and delicious sense of language, Oakley the Squirrel: The Search for Z is an alphabet book like no other. In it, we meet Little Oakley as he embarks on a quest to find the letter Z. He searches through an alphabet of human objects—looks beneath the Bed, claws through the Closet, digs through Drawers, examines his Easel, and so on. By the time he gets to a basket of yarn, Oakley starts to yawn, and soon falls asleep. And Z—as in, Zzzzzz!—appears!
The images are quirky, crafty, and irresistible. Nancy Rose, the photographer and author, handmakes the squirrel-scale sets and props and lures wild squirrels into the frame by strategically placing peanuts throughout. As the squirrels search for the nuts, Nancy snaps the perfect shot.
The language, filled with lively alliteration, has a tongue-in-cheek tone to match:
Oakley doesn’t see anything under the umbrellas.
He visits the vegetables in vain!
When he sniffs around the wagon Oakley wonders . . .
is Z over by the xylophone?
The whole thing is as delicious as a bowlful of nuts.