'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 9 April 2020

Review: Scruffle-Nut

Olivia is ageing. Memories are all that she has to live with. Withdrawn and alone, her mind returns her to her childhood when she was cared for by Nanny Clementine. Her visits to the park are her fondest recollections.

The movement of the seesaw, the motion of the swing, riding on the carousel, these memories come and go. It is her walks in the park that are her constant companions. There she met the squirrel she named Scruffle-Nut.
There she returned time and time again to see him.

Shy of the world and hiding behind a trunk, her damaged animal friend hides to avoid the Bully-Bunch. His tail is a stump, evidence of his worst experiences.

It is like when the young Olivia sets out with Nanny and encounters the three girls from her class. I look the other way and hold Nanny’s hand a little tighter.

This one time, Olivia cannot find her little squirrel, only the others. When she does, she drops him some crumbs which are quickly picked up by the Bully-Bunch who chase Scruffle-Nut away.  One more contact is all the young Olivia gets. It stays with her forever.

This poignant and deeply emotive story is about ageing, bullying, and which memories stay with us throughout our lifetime, and why.

Being a great admirer of Corinne Fenton’s work, I always pay close attention to her choice of words. She is exceptionally perceptive; an observer. Her brevity and nuances contribute to the expansion of her theme. In Scruffle-Nut, each sentence is an emotion.  The sadness of Olivia’s life is juxtaposed with Scruffle-Nut’s to show how identical their lives and emotions are. This is why they are drawn to one another.

Huge credit is given to Owen Swan for his stunning, delicate and immersive interpretation of Fenton’s text and theme. This includes the exceptional covers.

Title: Scruffle-Nut
Author: Corinne Fenton
Illustrator: Owen Swan
Publisher: New Frontier, $24.99
Publication Date: October 2019
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781925594768
For ages: 4 - 8
Type: Australian Picture Book