About the Holiday
Squirrels elicit emotions on both sides of the spectrum. On one hand you can’t help but say “Awww!” when you see their tiny little paws and crafty antics. On the other hand their voracious appetites at bird feeders and penchant for darting into traffic is more likely to make you say “Arrgghhh!” This month is set aside, however, for enjoying the squirrels in your yard, park, or city. And really, don’t they make life just a little more fun?
Those Darn Squirrels Fly South
Written by Adam Rubin | Illustrated by Daniel Salmieri
Everyone knows Mr. Fookwire is a grump whose grumpiness knows no bounds. “He scolded fireflies for being too bright…yelled at clouds for being too fluffy…and pinched his nose with a clothespin” so he doesn’t have to smell the lilacs. Despite these annoyances, though, he had a wonderful summer painting pictures of the birds in his yard even though “those darn squirrels” had set up an easel of their own nearby.
But now fall was here and that meant that all of Mr. Fookwire’s beloved birds would soon be flying south leaving him with only the squirrels for company. While the squirrels usually spent the winter months “playing ping pong, building ships in bottles, and knitting, this winter they had decided to follow the birds to warmer climes. With their expert knowledge in aerodynamic engineering, the squirrels had “built gyro-copters from pinecones…gliders from leaves…and even a zeppelin from an old shopping bag.”
When the day came for the birds to take wing, Mr. Fookwire sadly waved goodbye. Just as he was about to return to the house, he heard a strange rustling, then a whir, and finally a buzz. It was the squirrels soaring away in their homemade aircraft. “‘Great googley-moogley’” Mr. Fookwire exclaimed.
The squirrels followed the birds for days until they landed on a beach. To celebrate the end of their journey and the welcome warmth, the squirrels held a fiesta, complete with mangoes, the marimba, and the merengue. Winter was wonderful here where there were new foods to eat and new birds to discover. One with a long neck, rings around its eyes, and red and blue feathers even looked a little familiar and left the squirrels feeling homesick. They decided to make a long-distance phone call, and chattered away to Mr. Fookwire.
Although he wouldn’t admit it, Mr. Fookwire was happy to receive the call. He decided to pack up his easels, paints, brushes, and cottage cheese with pepper and hit the road in his beautiful vintage car. Driving 12 miles an hour, Mr. Fookwire at last reached the beach, where the squirrels swarmed him in a big hug. “Maybe it was the nice weather. Maybe it was the beautiful scenery, Maybe it was the squirrels dancing in his pants. But for the first time in a very long time, the old man laughed.”
Mr. Fookwire was delighted with the local birds and immediately began to paint them. “‘The birds here are even more amazing than the birds back home!’ he exclaimed. ‘Harrumph!’ muttered the floogle bird.” The hot sun took its toll on Mr. Fookwire, however, and he collapsed right into the middle of his painting. The squirrels dragged him into the shade and revived him. Maybe spending the winter at home was better. Mr. Fookwire decided to head back, and the squirrels accompanied him. They didn’t want to miss “the annual snow-fort building competition.”
They all jumped into the car and sped off. Really! After all, Mr. Fookwire was in no condition to drive.
Adam Rubin’s Those Darn Squirrels Fly South contains all the charm and squirrely shenanigans that make the other two books in the series such a hit with kids (and adults). Rubin’s snappy descriptions, silly scenarios, and loveably cantankerous protagonist make for a hilarious story time read that will delight his fans and captivate new readers.
Daniel Salmieri knows how to make kids giggle and laugh out loud with colorful illustrations that perfectly depict Mr. Fookwire’s world—both at home and away. Mr. Fookwire’s noodly arms, giraffe-long neck, and carrot-shaped nose coalesce into a character that is at once funny and endearing. Getting more beak time in this third outing, the familiar birds are joined by a crew of even more brilliant and exotic beach mates. The squirrels are up to their usual contraption-making tricks as they build flying machines from soda bottles, flashlights, baseball caps, and more around-the-house items. The squirrels know how to live wherever they are, and Salmieri’s depictions of them holding a fiesta, hugging Mr. Fookwire, and roaring down the highway is absurdity for the younger set at its best.
Ages 4 – 7
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012 | ISBN 978-0544555457
You can find out more about Adam Rubin, his books, and his dry sense of humor on his website!
View a gallery of illustration work and more books by Daniel Salmieri on his website!
Go nuts watching this Those Darn Squirrels Fly South book trailer!
Squirrel Awareness Month Activity
Celebrate Squirrels! Dot-to-Dot
Enjoy following the dots to finish this printable Celebrate Squirrels! activity sheet and then color it in!
Picture Book Review