Squirrels 1, Cat 0: Those Darn Squirrels and the Cat Next Door by Adam Rubin
NOW, NOT MANY PEOPLE KNOW THIS, BUT SQUIRRELS ARE THE CHAMPIONS OF THE FOREST.
THEY ARE CRAFTIER THAN BEAVERS, SMARTER, THAN FOXES, AND SWIFTER THAN RABBITS.
THEY ARE ALSO FULL OF MISCHIEF.
Of course, professional neighborhood grump, Old Man Forkwire, "so old that when he sneezed, dust came out," has learned his lesson, having already been forced to make a reluctant peace with Those Darn Squirrels! (Clarion, 2009), but now it looks like those pesky rodentia have met their match.
A new neighbor moves in, Little Old Lady Hu, the town baker, with her preternaturally portly, malevolent-looking cat, Muffins. Mrs. Hu's beloved "Snookums," Muffins is a holy terror of a feline, and he soon establishes his reign over those pesky squirrels with just a few well-placed wet willies, noogies, and wedgies. Then Muffins terrorizes Mr. Forkwire's beloved birds, earning the squirrels a rare bit of sympathy from their frenemy Forkwire.
Mr. Forkwire contacts the Mayor about the menace, but the squirrels go him one better in revenge. They hold another of their famous strategy all-nighters, fueled by cheese puffs, and emerge with a plan involving the one thing cats fear above all others--a good dousing.
A typical squirrel Rube Goldberg device dumps a bucket of freezing water all over Muffins just as he's about to feast on Mr. Forkwire's bird friends. The result is, shall we say, deflating to Muffin's ego and reputation.
"GREAT GOOGLEY-MOOGLEY!" FORKWIRE EXCLAIMED, "THAT PATHETIC WRETCH IS NO BIGGER THAN A SQUIRREL!"
IT WAS TRUE! UNDERNEATH ALL HIS FLUFF AND FUZZ, MUFFINS WAS NOTHING BUT A SKINNYMALINK.
With Muffins now a humiliated house-bound kitty, the birds and squirrels are sitting pretty, and Little Old Lady Hu shares her pastry wares freely with them every Saturday while Old Man Forkwire is free to paint his beloved birds undisturbed, which is, grouchy to the end, the way he likes it.
In their latest collaboration, Those Darn Squirrels and the Cat Next Door (Clarion, forthcoming May 2, 2011) Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri have another winner under their creative belts, a clever and jolly blending of text and the illustrator's art that is a sure kid-pleaser. Publishers Weekly has given this one their coveted starred-review thumbs up, adding "Having already proved they are ideally matched in their debut, Those Darn Squirrels!, Rubin and Salmieri go for two--and succeed."
A glorious giggle-getter!