In the children’s book, Mabby The Squirrel’s Guide To Flying by Matthew Gene Claybrook, we eventually meet Mabby who is the father of the original character we meet, Dorma. Mabby is supposed to have Asperger’s, is my understanding, but really the way the book reads it just appears that the real problem is a physical deformity that makes it more difficult for Mabby to fly, and therefore he is shunned by the other squirrels. There is much more to this book than learning to fly for Mabby, and honestly the parts of Mabby learning to fly are rather short in comparison to the other components of the story. This is really a mystery book with a rather complex plot by one of the squirrels in the town to overthrow the town and become something of a dictator. The question is whether or not Mabby and his friends can figure out which squirrel it is and stop it before it’s too late.
For me this book was a bit of a mess, but the one positive thing I can say is that the author has taken great care to craft some great characters. There is a depth to each character that makes them three dimensional, and with the amount of characters there are, this is quite a feat. Most of the characters end up being major, but even the minor characters leave an impression. The dialogue of the characters is different according to the character and really makes the squirrel village come to life.
The plot, however, is a terrible mess. Being a former teacher, I can’t imagine this holding the interest of a child for any length of time. Mabby is supposed to be the main character, yet he isn’t even born until around chapter five. The lead up to his birth becomes important because of the mystery plot that is really the main plot line of the story; not Mabby learning how to fly. The mystery plot line is certainly intriguing, but there’s too much added into it to make it flow smoothly. As a writer myself, I used to almost cry when someone told me to cut the first chapter of my book, as I felt it was important information, but with more experience under my belt, I understand and this book needs some massive cutting. Perhaps this would have been best served as a series of smaller books which would have allowed the author to add more to Mabby actually learning how to fly, which was severely undercut as far as writing goes. I’m also not sure that Asperger’s was really detailed here. There are some things that would make one possibly come to that conclusion, but the physical deformity that Mabby and his mother have seem to be the bigger issue than of them being socially unskilled.
In all, I think this book will not really hold the attention of children. There’s some good things to work with, mostly the characters and a unique plot that would perhaps be better served as a series, but in the format that it is currently in, I can’t honestly recommend the book. There’s simply too much information in this one volume to really come together and tell one story and keep my attention as a reader or to do any one part of the plot justice.