Old Man Fookwire is a grump. The only thing he likes to do is paint pictures of the birds that visit his backyard. The problem is, they fly south every winter, leaving him sad and lonely. So he decides to get them to stay by putting up beautiful birdfeeders filled with seeds and berries. Unfortunately, the squirrels like the treats, too, and make a daring raid on the feeders. The conflict escalates—until the birds depart (as usual), and the squirrels come up with a plan that completely charms the old grump.
Those Darn Squirrels Review
Kindergarten-Grade 4—This simple tale has a sneaky, edgy humor that erupts into hilarity as well as a warm, stabilizing feeling for humanity in all of its quirky manifestations. "Old Man Fookwire was so old that when he sneezed, dust came out. He was also a grump. He hated pie. He hated puppies. The only thing he liked was birds." This verbal introduction to the main character is enhanced with paintings—reminiscent of some of the best European children's book illustrations—of an exaggeratedly skinny, flannel-shirted caricature with a long neck, long nose, oversized glasses, and protruding Adam's apple. He never smiles, even when he's painting pictures of the birds that visit his yard every summer. In an attempt to keep the birds around when autumn arrives, he builds wonderful birdfeeders. They do indeed attract the birds—but they also catch the eye of the squirrels. The cheerful, brilliant, and adorable creatures are shown using pulleys, weights, and remarkable cooperative planning to foil Fookwire and raid the feeders. The old man fights back. But the squirrels, still smiling and hopeful, stay up all night for a planning meeting and devise a daring escapade that relies heavily on their deep understanding of physics and their willingness to be launched through the air. What happens to the squirrels, the birds, and to Old Man Fookwire is a symphony of regret, respect, and sweetness. Readers will want to linger over this book and treasure every page.—Susan Weitz, formerly at Spencer-Van Etten School District, Spencer, NY
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