Sammy Squirrel & Rodney Raccoon
November 09th, 2023
Duane Lawrence’s (at right) kidlit, Sammy Squirrel & Rodney Raccoon: A Stanley Park Tale (Granville Island Publishing, 2007) has captured the hearts of many primary school children who loved reading about the adventures described in this book. Since the story also piqued the interest of younger readers who requested to “see the pictures in colour,” Lawrence worked with illustrator Gordon Clover to produce the slimmed-down, picture book version, Sammy Squirrel & Rodney Raccoon: Far From Stanley Park (Granville Island Publishing $14.95) for pre-school children who are just beginning to read.
The story follows a squirrel and raccoon duo, who depart to explore the world beyond the familiar bounds of their home, Vancouver’s Stanley Park. Their curiosity leads them on an extraordinary journey that takes an unexpected turn when they find themselves swept out to sea in a small boat. Crossing the vast Pacific Ocean, the woodland creatures face numerous challenges, testing their courage and resourcefulness. During this maritime odyssey, Sammy and Rodney forge new alliances with Salty Seagull, Winifred Whale and a deer named Shika. These newfound friends become instrumental in resolving a crisis involving the deer in Nara, Japan.
“Shika and another deer named Shizen told them about life in their park. The people who worked there usually left them alone, but once a year the workers did something very strange. They herded all the deer together and removed their antlers. They said it was to protect the visitors who walked in the park, but the deer didn’t like it very much,” writes Lawrence. “Sammy and Rodney decided to help their new friends escape before the next antler ceremony.”
Lawrence captures the essence of a fictional animal adventure while also weaving in real-life themes, and addressing the nuanced relationships between animals and humans. He skillfully underscores the interconnected nature of life, highlighting the sensitivity of living creatures and emphasizing the enduring value of kindness.
Duane Lawrence lives in Vancouver and enjoys regular walks in Stanley Park. It was on one of these leisurely strolls that he decided to write about the animals he was encountering there. 9781989467404