Prather’s Pick: Man vs. squirrels |

Prather’s Pick: Man vs. squirrels

Diane Prather
Diane Prather

This has been a summer for various kinds of varmints. Among them are mice, rats, raccoons, skunks and squirrels. So it’s very possible that area residents have uttered the words found in the title of this week’s picture book for kids.

“Those Darn Squirrels!” was written by Adam Rubin and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri. The book, with a 2008 copyright, is published by Clarion Books.

The setting of the book is the edge of a forest where Old Man Fookwire lives in a little house. It might be a good thing that he lives out of town because Old Man Fookwire is somewhat of a grump. In fact, he hates most anything, including pie and puppies. (Who hates pie and puppies?) It’s kind of surprising that the thing he does like, besides cottage cheese and pepper, is birds.

Summer days find Old Man Fookwire, who is so old that he sneezes dust, outdoors with an easel, canvas, bucket of paint, and a brush, where he paints pictures of the forest birds. They are birds that most people have never heard of, such as whirley birds, bonga birds, baba birds, yaba birds, and the rare floogle birds. Each bird’s size, color, and body make-up is as unique as its name.

Old Man Fookwire doesn’t look forward to winter, when the birds will fly south. So this year he has a plan. He thinks that if he puts up birdfeeders full of seeds and berries that the birds might hang around.

While his bird paintings might not be considered sensational, his birdfeeders are. They are of every design and size, and, indeed, the birds enjoy them. In fact, birds come from all over the forest.

However, the birds aren’t the only animals to notice the birdfeeders. It is brought to the reader’s attention that squirrels are very clever creatures. After all, they can make their houses out of trees, and they can even make box kites from twigs, dirt and string. So the squirrels sit back and watch the birds eat the seeds and berries, and it isn’t long until they help themselves, too. After all, they’re getting ready for winter.

The squirrels’ antics are comical. They knock some of the birdfeeders onto the ground. They empty others, sometimes right into the open mouths of squirrels underneath them. Well, as you might imagine, Old Man Fookwire and the birds aren’t one bit happy. The old man makes a fist and yells, “Those darn squirrels!” The birds make their feelings known, too.

The war is on, man and birds against the squirrels. Old Man Fookwire hangs the birdfeeders high up on a clothesline. He fills the feeders again, but the squirrels are smarter than he thought. Before long they’re lying around on the tree branches, resting their fat stomachs. And that’s just the beginning!

This is one hilarious book! I noticed two other books about the squirrels while I was in the children’s room at the Craig Moffat County Library. This book can be purchased in hardcover for $17.99. (By now it might even be in softcover.)

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