Ellie Kemper isn’t trying to change the world, but she’s hoping her new book will change your mind about ice cream, at the very least. The “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” actress is hitting the road this month in support of her debut work, “My Squirrel Days,” which tracks the Missouri native’s journey from awkward adolescence to Emmy-nominated star.
Framed around a series of personal anecdotes and essays, publisher Scribner says “My Squirrel Days” is a “funny, free-wheeling tour” of Kemper’s life. Rather than write a traditional memoir or advice book, Kemper says she wanted to release a collection of stories that were equal parts uplifting and irreverent. As she writes in the introduction, “This book is not so much a tribute to brave women everywhere as it is a record of my favorite ice cream brands. I wrote what I knew and I know what I wrote.”
The rest of the book is similarly perfunctory, darting between recollections of old friends and old jobs, to advice — and constructive criticism — she’s received from colleagues like Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey and Steve Carell. Kemper also details her journey from being single, to finding a husband, to becoming — in her own words — “an anxious mother” and SoulCycle “warrior.”
The chapter headings are all based off names or roles Kemper has played, or been given. The titles range from “Redhead” to “Receptionist,” “Slob” to “Starlet.”
The title of the book comes from a story Kemper recounts about trying to befriend the squirrels in her backyard, after an inspired viewing of “Dances With Wolves” in the sixth grade.
Valerie Steiker, the Executive Editor at Scribner, worked with Kemper on the book while the actress was filming the final season of “Kimmy Schmidt.” She says the process was relatively easy, despite Kemper’s busy schedule. “Having admired her as an actress and comedian, everyone at Scribner was excited by the idea of working with Ellie,” Steiker says. “Her voice on the page — smart, funny, crisp, arresting — sealed the deal. She is a born writer, with a brilliant, almost startling sense of humor—you never know where she’s going but you’re so happy to arrive.”
Kemper, who just joined Instagram in September, posted a series of photos and videos to social media celebrating the release of the book last week. She’s currently making appearances in select cities to promote the project.
“My Squirrel Days” is available on hardcover, Kindle and in audiobook format on Amazon. The website is also offering a free 30-day trial to its “Audible” service, which will allow you to download and listen to the book for free.
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