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Monday, March 26, 2012

Those Darn Squirrels, written by Adam Rubin and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Thomas Allen & Son. 2008. $7.99 ages 5 and up

"Not many people know this, but squirrels are the cleverest of all the woodland creatures. In fact, they're fuzzy little geniuses! They can make a house out of a tree, a bed out of a bunch of leaves, and a box kite out of twigs, dirt and squirrel spit. They are also excellent at math."

Our Aunt Sandi is not going to like this book! She has had a hate on for squirrels since the first one settled itself in the attic and became nocturnal...keeping her awake at night plotting its demise. She didn't like them any better when they found their sneaky way into almost every 'squirrel proof' bird feeder she bought for the backyard birds.

But, she will find it funny and wish she had someone to share the story with her. I mean, Old Man Fookwire? How do you miss with a name like that? He seems to epitomize everything you can imagine about a man with such a handle...grumpy, gruff, opinionated, and bent on defeating the squirrels that inhabit nearby trees. I love that 'he's so old he sneezes dust'. You can't help but let  yourself have a go at trying to come up with other such apt descriptions. He doesn't like pie and he detests puppies.  Perhaps his saving grace is that he loves birds and often uses them as models for his creative talents. He paints all types of birds:

"There were whirley birds and bonga birds, baba birds and yaba birds. Even a rare floogle bird came by once or twice.
Fookwire's paintings weren't very good, but the birds never said anything."

Ah, but the squirrels. It appears that they also have a penchant for the feathered fliers. Well, maybe not the birds but definitely their fodder. No matter what is devised to keep them at bay, they find a way to get at that food. The battle for supremacy begins. Decide, if you will, the victorious.

The artwork takes this offbeat story and makes it even more so! It's all so much fun. Take a look at the angry bird atop Fookwire's head on the cover art...aping the old man's fist and veiled threats. The telling is in the details and each page offers a new look at the ingenuity of man and the animal kingdom...especially those darn squirrels!

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