Fourteen-year-old Doreen Green likes being Squirrel Girl, a bushy-tailed superhero who is helping to fight crime in their suburban New Jersey community of Shady Oaks.
As “The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: 2 Fuzzy, 2 Furious” opens, Squirrel Girl is trying to balance being a superhero with her Squirrel Scouts from school along with texting the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy for advice, with being Doreen, which means keeping up with homework, hiding her tail, navigating friendships and dealing with odd teachers.
There is a new mall opening between Shady Oaks and nearby Listless Pines, and a mascot competition between the two communities becomes more intense than it should. Doreen and her best human friend Ana Sofia notice odd things happening in their community, some are about the mall opening and some don’t seem too related but could be. They along with Tippy Toe, her best squirrel friend, and the squirrels of Shady Pines start to see what they can find out and if the mall is somehow connected to the evil Hydra organization.
Doreen is still learning how to be Squirrel Girl and what it mean that she can do with the proportional speed, strength and agility of a squirrel.
“2 Fuzzy, 2 Furious” is told from the perspectives of Doreen/Squirrel Girl, Ana Sofia and Tippy Toe, and the authors give a distinctive voice to each and shared as they face different personal challenges, including the squirrel kind for Tippy Toe.
Utah authors Shannon and Dean Hale share a fun and creative story about an understated superhero. While they incorporate real issues faced by middle-schoolers and someone who is hearing impaired (Ana Sofia uses hearing aids), the overall story doesn’t take itself too seriously, making it enjoyable to read.
There are other fun elements to the book, including the group texts with other superheroes, including the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy, a list of very creative squirrel names and Thor dropping in to visit.
“2 Fuzzy, 2 Furious” does include some fighting and other generally described violence that’s told in an age appropriate way. There isn’t any swearing or sexual content.
The first book, “The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World,” is now out in paperback and includes a short full-color prequel comic for Squirrel Girl.
The husband-wife duo are also the authors of the Princess in Black series and “Calamity Jack” and “Rapunzel’s Revenge.” Shannon Hale is also the author of the trio of Princess Academy books, the Books of Bayern, the Ever After High series and the graphic novel “Real Friends.”
"MONSTER HIGH/EVER AFTER HIGH: The Legend of Shadow High," by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $14.99, 327 pages (f) (ages 8 and up)
Monster High, where the children of various monsters go to school, and Ever After High, for the children of fairy tale characters, have been in different series and books.
They meet in “Monster High/Ever After High: The Legend of Shadow High” by Utah authors Shannon and Dean Hale.
Frankie Stein and Draculara are accidentally transported to Ever After High and meet Apple White and Raven Queen. That’s not the only odd thing, and in the ensuing chaos, they can’t find Madeline Hatter.
They also discover that the Evil Queen, Raven Queen’s mother, has escaped the mirror prison. As the four learn to work together, they try to both find their friend, figure out what the Evil Queen is up to, and find out more about the mysterious Shadow High. They also learn to use their imaginations and their strengths as they navigate this adventure with many twists, turns and surprises.
It’s an entertaining story that also shares realistic emotions of teens as they navigate friendships, facing fears and figuring out homework.
There are many creative and clever elements in this mashup and with a choose-your-own-adventure section, exploring the role of the narrators and readers, the power of imagination and other things that would be spoilers.
There is some minor generally described violence that’s told in an age-appropriate way. There is no swearing or sexual content.
Shannon Hale is also the author of the Ever After High series. “The Legend of Shadow High” can be read as a stand-alone novel.
If you go ...
What: Shannon and Dean Hale book signing
When: Friday, March 16, 7 p.m.
Where: The King's English Bookshop, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City
Note: Places in the signing line are reserved for those who purchase a copy of the featured book from The King's English.
When: Tuesday, March 20, 7 p.m.
Where: Provo City Library, 550 N. University Ave., Provo
Note: Register for free tickets to the event on the Provo Library's website.