Squirrel Girl is a breath of fresh air in the super hero genre. Created by author Will Murray and artist Steve Ditko, Squirrel Girl was introduced to the Marvel comics universe in 1991 due to a desire to create a lighthearted superhero story. The character floated around for a while teaming up with Avengers and other super groups. In 2015 she was rebooted and given her own comic series, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. She has become quite a popular character, especially with younger audiences, and this chapter book, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World came about to meet the demand for more SG stories. However, no prior knowledge is necessary to enjoy the delightful story of Doreen Green growing into her superhero mantle, Squirrel Girl.
Squirrel Meets World is an origin story. Doreen Green, age fourteen and not an inch of her mean, has just moved from her birth place of California to Shady Oaks, New Jersey with her loving and supporting parents. Born with a squirrel tail, Doreen’s parents have taught her to hide her tail because other children would be jealous they didn’t have a beautiful tail. And to hide her strength because other parents would be sad their children weren’t part squirrel. Filled with endless optimism and confidence (“Leap before you look!”), Doreen embraces her squirrel attributes from chitterspeak to needing to gnaw on things to keep her front two top teeth from growing too long. She also has the proportional power of a squirrel, meaning she can leap an astonishing distance and is far stronger than would be expected. Along the way there are all sorts of puns and jokes relating to nuts and squirrels.
Up to this point in her life, Doreen has only whispered the name Squirrel Girl to herself, not feeling that she could be a “real” superhero. But when she starts making a difference in her community Doreen realizes that you don’t have to be on the level of the Avengers to be a superhero. There are many things to love about Squirrel Meets World, first and foremost is Squirrel Girl herself with a heart of gold, fun sense of humor, and desire to make things better for humans and squirrels. Ana Sofia, her reluctant at first best friend and their relationship together. That Ana Sofia is more than just a “friend” character. She loves socks, Thor, and intends to find out why crime has been increasing in Shady Oaks through determined sleuthing. Doreen’s other best friend, Tippy Toe, a squirrel she meets on the first day in her new home. Through Tippy Toe we see the workings and hierarchies of squirrel clans, learn of squirrels’ love for babies, and are treated to Jersey squirrel speak. Like any good superhero origin story there is a villain, a mysterious someone behind the scenes, affecting the way of life in Shady Oaks.
Perhaps one of the most amusing things about the book is how it is formatted. Peppered throughout with footnotes where Doreen speaks to the readers. This in line with the current comics, where Doreen also breaks the fourth wall to talk to the reader. In you are a fan of Marvel comics, or the Marvel movies, you will get an extra kick from the occasional text message appearances of several well known superheros. Squirrel Meets World is all around an entertaining read.
On a suggestion I picked up the first Unbeatable Squirrel Girl graphic novel and gave it to my then nine year old daughter, Squirrel Girl immediately became one of her favorite super heroes and mine too. We both loved this novel and getting to meet a younger Doreen as she finds her inner superhero.