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Friday, September 21, 2012

Those Darn Squirrels Fly South, written by Adam Rubin and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri. Clarion, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Thomas Allen & Son, 2012. $19.99 ages 4 and up

"When the first frost arrived, the bonga birds took off, followed by the baba birds and the yaba birds. They circled the house, waved goodbye to Fookwire, and headed south. The floogle bird spent a few minutes scarfing up the last of the farfale seeds. Then he took off, too."

Oh, no! His beloved birds are starting to feel the cool winds of autumn. It's a sure signal that they had better tune up their GPS and begin preparations for their annual southern trek. They don't want to be in Mr. Fookwire's back yard when winter arrives.

Mr. Fookwire's heart is filled with sadness and longing. He doesn't want to be ALONE. Up until now the squirrels have provided a modicum of company; this year they have other ideas in mind:

"Now, not many people know this, but squirrels have a comprehensive understanding of aerodynamic engineering. They built gyro-copters from pinecones. They built gliders from leaves. They even built a zeppelin from an old shopping bag."

So, when they see the birds take to the air,  the squirrels have an insatiable desire to know where they are going and what they do while they are away. Off they go, too. Now, he's really on his own for the long, cold winter.

He doesn't know it, but the birds and the squirrels are quite content:

"The beach was so warm and beautiful, and the squirrels were so happy to be done flying, they decided to have a fiesta. They went swimming and ate mangoes, with salt, and lime. They played he marimba and danced the merengue. The party lasted all night long. (Did you hear that, Lionel Richie?)

Fans will be happy to share another story about the irascible Mr. Fookwire, the bevy of birds who inhabit his back yard and the sage squirrels who will try anything. When facing the loneliness of winter and after fielding a long distance call that he could only interpret came from the newly arrived squirrels, he decides that he might well join them:

"He loaded it up with his easel, paints, and brushes, fixed himself a snack of cottage cheese with pepper, and hit the road. Then he drove twelve miles an hour all the way to Santa Vaca."

Imagine the joy!

The premise of the book, both linguistic and artistic, is to have a laugh and a bunch of giggles. Both artists ensure that young children will delight in the characters...each and every one of them. They will be surprised at the ingenuity and tenacity of the squirrels, the unique beauty of the beleaguered birds and the grumpiness of the man who seems (at last) to love them all. Take a careful look at every illustration created and the entertainment value rises exponentially. Great fun for those who choose to share this new tale!   

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