Sorrell and the Sleepover
Corrinne Averiss and Susan Varley
Have you ever kept something about yourself or family a secret from a best friend so as not to feel inferior? That’s what one of the main characters in this lovely story decides to do.
It revolves around best friends Sage and Sorrel (squirrels). Pretty much everything about the two is the same: they like the same games, sing the same songs and say the same things at the same time. Even their tails have identical stripes.
Sorrel is thrilled when Sage invites her to stay at her house for a sleepover; rather than feeling nervous about her first night away from home, Sorrel is excited as she packs her overnight nutshell.
Sage’s home is impressive, a huge branching conifer that includes nests for her aunties and her cousins as well as Sage’s immediate family. But as the two friends snuggle up for the night, Sage’s comment about looking forward to a reciprocal visit causes Sorrel to worry so much about the difference between the two homes that she decides not to invite her friend back. Best friends don’t have differences, she tells herself.
Sage however is persistent and so Sorrel invents a series of excuses: a poorly mum, a burst pipe; the painting of their home resulting in the newly pink leaves being too wet for visitors to stay.
It’s this pinkness however that finally puts paid to further inventive excuses on Sorrel’s part. It also results in the truth being revealed about her home.
Sage, being a true and empathetic friend, isn’t at all concerned about their difference; to her it’s a cause for celebration.
Telling it with tenderness and understanding, Corrinne Averiss has created a story of two trees and two squirrels that will particularly resonate with under confident children who have done the same as Sorrel, but it’s a book that needs to be shared and discussed widely in schools and early years settings.
Susan Varley echoes the warmth of the telling in her beautiful illustrations. I’ve been a huge fan of her work ever since Badger’s Parting Gifts: her art never fails to delight and so it is here: delicate, detailed and utterly enchanting, every spread.