Reading to my daughter is one of my favorite things to do with her but reading the same thing over and over can be a drag. So, every week I visit the public library to load up on children's books. I don't spend much time picking out books - I grab them based on the title and pictures. Some are real duds, like the one who featured a child who threw a fit about having to eat peas so her mom gave her more icecream instead of eating the vegetables... ummm what? Have you been to Parenting 101? Some books are fun and silly like Frog on a Log. And some offer a pretty clear message.

Last night, we popped open Never Trust a Squirrel by Patrick Cooper. The story is about a guinea pig named William who lives in a hutch with his mom. He's bored until one day a squirrel named Stella visits. She invites him to play in the forest. William declines but the next day, he ignores his mother request to stay close and runs off with the squirrel. All is going well until there is a warning of a fox. The squirrel dashes up the tree leaving the little piggy high and dry. Guinea pigs aren't known for their stealth, climbing ability, or their speed. It would have been curtains for the little pig if it wasn't for his mother saving him from the fox. The story finished with William and his mama having a long talk about listening and going along with strangers.

After finishing the book, I seized the grand opportunity to talk to her about stranger danger, going along with someone who seems safe, and what can happen. I absolutely hate having to talk to my five-year-old about these things. I want her childhood to be magical and carefree but the sad truth is we live in a world where children aren't always safe. Even here in the tri-state, terrible things can happen and I want to prepare her for the fox as much as I possibly can.

If you have young children, I suggest checking this book out or buying it for multiple readings to remember the strong lesson little William learned.

Dutton Juvenile; 1st American ed edition (March 1, 1999)