Author: Sean P.B. Robinson
Genre: Middle Grade (Ages 8-12), Fun & Lighthearted Fantasy
Length: 94 Pages
Jerry is a Squirrel. Jerry is also an inventor. The problem is that Jerry’s inventions rarely work out the way he wants them to.
Join Jerry the Squirrel on his fun and whacky adventures in the world of Arestana as he deals with annoying neighbors, out of control slippers and a tyrannical Squirrel-boss whose only leadership quality is his amazing hat.
This collection of ten stories is perfect for some fun reading as a family, as bedtime stories, or just to sit back and enjoy a good read! #bewarethechicken
Jerry the Squirrel by Shawn P.B. Robinson is a cute, clever, and comical romp through a fantastical world where anything is possible.
Jerry is a squirrel. He is also an inventor. Unfortunately, Jerry’s inventions never seem to work out the way that he had planned!
The great thing about indie books is that they make space for books that might not otherwise find a home with a traditional publisher. I really enjoy reading independently published books because sometimes you find a real gem. Jerry the Squirrel is just such a gem. I’ve never read anything quite like it before. The tongue-in-cheek humor and squirrel protagonists in a slightly off kilter fantasy world is like a delightful combination of Terry Prachett’s Discworld series meets Watership Down.
I had so much fun reading this book. Much of the humor reminded me of, Looney Toons, one of my favorite cartoon shows from when I was child, . There were also moments that were delightfully tongue in cheek, if not outright ironic. There is a great deal in these stories to amuse both children and adults.
The entire time I was reading about Jerry’s exploits, I kept thinking how delighted I would have been with this book when I was a young girl. I spent my childhood years reading any animal book I could get my hands on and I was especially fond of Hank the Houndog and Black Beauty. I have been known to rearrange my entire “to be read list,” if there is the promise of a cute animal story.
These stories would be great for parents and children to share together. An exuberant reader could really make these fun and whacky tales fly right off the page. As I was reading, I couldn’t help but picture the text as an animated cartoon.I’m certain young readers would really enjoy it.
Jerry the Squirrel is that is not just silly. This book also has a great deal of heart in it as well. The reader will find themselves rooting for Jerry as he constantly does his best to help his squirrel friends.
Jerry the Squirrel would be a great way to inspire reluctant middle grade readers. There is some humour in here that would definitely get a chuckle from elementary school age children. The adventures of Jerry the Squirrel would be an excellent way to teach young readers that reading can be fun!
I have been doing a lot of heavy reading for work lately and this was exactly the break that I needed. I highly recommend Jerry the Squirrel to parents with children, young readers, and anyone who just wants a fun book with a lot of heart.
About Shawn P.B. Robinson
(From Shawn’s Goodreads Page )
One of my favorite things about writing a book blog is that it gives me the opportunity to get to know authors from around the world. Shawn is my neighbor to the north (he is from Canada) and I was particularly delighted to talk to him because, like me, he also has had health issues that have seriously impacted his life.
This past December, when I was published my chapbook, I had utilized some of the great tips and other information Shawn has on his website about self-publishing. I was very pleased that Shawn was willing to take time to talk with me about his Jerry and his writing process, as well as the fun and unique fantasy world that he has created.
Rev. Rebecca: I very much enjoyed reading Jerry the Squirrel. I thought that it was so cute and clever. You mentioned that these stories were based on bedtime stories you told your children. Could you speak a little bit more of your writing process? How did you capture Jerry and his friends on paper? Did your children read your rough drafts?
Shawn P.B. Robinson: When it comes to my writing process, I find that a story gets in my head and I have to get it down on paper. It’s as if a story hits me and I can’t keep it in!
The thing I like about bedtime stories is you essentially just need a good idea and the rest of the story can fill in around it. So I get an idea of Jerry the Squirrel inventing slippers which go a little insane, add in a few details along the way and the story comes together. It’s fun!
For Jerry and his friends, my wife had been encouraging me to write out the stories for a while, but I just never got around to it. When I finally committed myself to writing the stories down, they flowed out wonderfully. The challenge, however, with kids stories is that sometimes they are a lot better with sound effects and actions—those are two things that are difficult to write. I have one story called “Mattresses” (likely to show up in Jerry the Squirrel: Volume Three) that involves a machine which makes and fires mattresses and pillows all around the village. It’s hilarious when you have sound effects and act out some of the reactions of the Squirrels, but to write it on paper is difficult!
I tend to read all my stories to my sons, both for their enjoyment as well as their reaction and feedback. I love to share the written stories with them and I pay close attention to how they react to each one. It gives me an eye into how others will take to the story and where things need to be tweaked.
The other advantage is it gives my sons an opportunity to speak into the development and creation of what I write. They can tell me things like, “I think it would be better if you left out that part” or “What if you added in a…” My family is my first set of editors. 🙂
RR: I see that Jerry and his friends are part of your Arestena series. Some characters from Arestena even make a brief appearance in one of the chapters. Could you tell me a little more about the world of Arestena and how Jerry fits into it?
SPBR: Well… Arestana is an odd world. Nothing works quite the same way as it might in our world. In the Arestana series, Liam (the main character) gets sucked down a toilet into Arestana. Yes… I know… that’s not the most mature way to write a portal from one world to the next, but I’m not always the most mature person.
When he arrives there, he finds a world he cannot make sense of, but he finds friends that he learns to love and adore. It’s a world full of adventure and oddness! 🙂
The Squirrels show up in book II in the series (and briefly in book III). They end up being one of the most feared creatures in all of Arestana and, due to their numbers, nearly impossible to defeat. Liam has to face off against them and it ends up being a lot of fun.
I have written a companion novel to Arestana II that shows the same story from the Squirrel’s perspective, but I decided not to publish it. I think it’s a great story, but it doesn’t make an awful lot of sense if you haven’t read Arestana II. I just printed a couple copies to share with people close to me who love Jerry the Squirrel and Arestana and want a little bit more. 🙂
In one of the Jerry the Squirrel stories (“Cold Homes”), Jerry sees three of the characters from Arestana walking through Squirrel Territory. In Arestana III, you read that same scene, but from the human perspective and then you get to see how the go on meet up with Hat Squirrel and have a run-in with the Nut-Harvester. Fun times!
As for Jerry in Arestana, he’s a well-known inventor throughout the world. When the Squirrels attack in Arestana II, Jerry shows up and the people of Arestana are terrified because they’re afraid Jerry the Squirrel will invent something that will go terribly wrong… and it does. 🙂
RR: One of the fun parts about Jerry the Squirrel is that it is appropriate for all ages. There is a lot here for both children and adults to enjoy. I also think your books would be a great way to inspire reluctant readers. Are all of the Arestena books Middle Grade? What made you decide to target Middle Grade readers? How is writing MG different from writing for YA?
SPB: One of the joys for me is that my books have often been described as “good for reluctant readers.” It’s a joy to be able to write something that grabs the attention of kids who would not normally read.
All my books have, so far, been geared to middle grade or younger. I find the reading level of Jerry the Squirrel and Arestana is for MG and above, but the stories work well for younger kids if adults read the books to them (which I strongly recommend… it’s important to read to kids).
The reason I targeted the MG age group is because of my own kids. At the time of writing the first Arestana book, my oldest son was 13 and my youngest was 7, going on 8. I wanted something they would both enjoy.
Writing MG is a lot different than YA. One of the things you can do with MG fiction is you can simply let go and have a lot of fun with it. You don’t need quite the level of drama that’s often expected in books geared to YA. Contemporary YA Books are often written with a lot of anger and often contain a strong theme leading toward an overwhelming angst (a LARGE amount of YA books are dystopian). I find characters in YA books often decide they don’t need anyone else and the books are full of betrayal and more. That all makes for a great story, but the thing I like about MG books is you can a story with good friends that stick together and ride out the storm as a team. A lot of the drama can be left for other books. It’s fun.
My Arestana books have a team that stands by one another and I like that. With Jerry the Squirrel, he slowly develops friendships with Gary and Sherry, two other Squirrels in his village, and eventually the three of them become quite close (you see that more in The Novel and in Volume Two and Three).
So… I just think that MG books can be a lot more fun to write and a lot more relaxed for the readers. 🙂
RR: The cover art for Jerry the Squirrel is immediately caught my attention. It’s very bright and vivid. After looking at your other books, I see that they are all drawn in a similar style. Do you draw your own cover art? If not, who does your cover designs?
SPB: Oh, I wish I could draw my covers, but that’s far beyond my ability. Finding my artist was difficult. I actually tracked down someone on Fiverr and asked him to design the cover for me. What he provided for me was downright horrific—it was the stuff of nightmares. After a couple attempts at revisions, I finally came to the conclusion that he wasn’t an artist. He was just trying to make a few bucks.
I then tracked down another artist (this one from Latvia) on Fiverr and thought I would test the waters a little bit by asking him to draw a few of my characters. What he sent back to me caused me to be so happy I nearly cried. He just has a way to draw simple, fun, happy characters.
Once I get the image for the cover from the artist, I then do all my own cover design in terms of titles and more. On the backs of my printed books I include over-the-top, absurd, fake reviews. It fits with my sense of humor. 🙂
RR: I see that you are also a blogger. Would you share a little more about your blog? Have you been blogging for long? Do you have any blogging tips for authors?
SPB: I have only been blogging for about a year and a half. I started down the road of self-publishing and decided that if I was going to learn about the process and all the information about self-publishing, I might as well put the information into helpful blogs for others to use. I wanted to provide a place where people could find simple, clear information on how to self-publish and I wanted to help people self-publish in affordable ways. That’s why I called the blog, “Self-Publishing on a Budget.” My hope is that someone can use the information on my blog to move from the rough manuscript phase right through to the final published product without costing them much money at all.
For blogging tips, I think there are a few things. First, start to develop friendships with other people. It’s not enough just to blog—you need to learn to love the people you’re interacting with. Be a support to them. Encourage them. Be friends with them. The blogging experience then becomes a joy.
Second, I would say just dive in and do it. We always wonder if we’re writing well enough or if the information is helpful. While we certainly need to edit our work and make sure we deal with any spelling mistakes, grammar issues and more, we cannot sit on our work forever, wondering if it’s good enough. Write your blog, edit it and post it!
RR: Finally, what projects do you currently have in the works? Which of your current projects excites you the most?
SPB: I have a number of projects in the works right now. The ideas keep flowing and I keep writing. 1. Jerry the Squirrel: Volume Two is set to come out on March 4 of this year. It just needs a final revision of my proof copy and it’ll be set to go!
Jerry the Squirrel: Volume Three is written, but needs some major work. It’s in that stage where I’m asking, “Is it any good?”
I’ve just started a series that (at present) I’m calling, “Annalynn the Canadian Spy.” We have some close friends who have a daughter named Annalynn and my wife and I put together a short book for her as a birthday gift. She’s really into spies right now, so I decided to write her as an eight-year-old girl who is recruited to be a spy. As a Canadian, I decided to write it full of Canadian quirks mixed with my own odd sense of humor (or “humour” as Canadians spell it). I’m hoping to turn it into a series about this little girl who works as a spy, travelling the world and going on missions. Her first mission is to rescue a tissue box that was stolen, causing her to disguise herself as an Opera Singer in order to get it back. Makes sense, right? This book will be geared more toward a slightly younger audience (7-10 year olds), although I found my 15 year old son enjoyed it… but he’s always up for a fun story!
The final project is one I’ve been developing for a long time, but just started writing it last fall. It’s geared to an older audience and is somewhat of a YA Sci-fi Adventure mystery book. I’m not sure how to describe it yet. I’m hoping that will come in time. It’s been difficult to write because I’ve poured a lot of emotion into it and very little humor. I’m not used to leaving humor out… I think it’ll be another month before the rough draft is written and then perhaps another month or two after that before the book is ready for even my Alpha Readers.
What excites me the most about these projects is perhaps the “Annalynn the Canadian Spy” book series. It’s new, it’s fun and I think it’ll grab the attention of young readers.
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