cover image Those Darn Squirrels and the Cat Next Door

Those Darn Squirrels and the Cat Next Door

Adam Rubin, illus. by Daniel Salmieri. Clarion, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-547-42922-9

Having already proved they're ideally matched in their debut, Those Darn Squirrels! (2008), Rubin and Salmieri go for two%E2%80%94and succeed. This time, Mr. Fookwire, his beloved backyard birds, and his relentlessly clever squirrel frenemies are united against a new neighbor and common enemy: a corpulent, take-no-prisoners cat named Muffins, whose idea of fun is giving the squirrels noogies, wet willies, and wedgies%E2%80%94and the last, readers are reminded, is "not an easy thing to do, because generally squirrels do not wear underpants." But before Muffins can show what he has in mind for the birds (who seem utterly clueless despite their curvilinear grace), the squirrels summon their ingenuity (their idea of brain food is cheese puffs and ginger ale) and concoct a revenge scheme that has Muffins retreating indoors permanently, thus insinuating themselves into Mr. Fookwire's grumpy affections once more. Rubin's sly ironies and Salmieri's spare but deeply goofy aesthetic is child-friendly urbanity at its best. And those squirrels! Impish, beady-eyed, and never individuated, they steal the spotlight in every scene. Ages 5%E2%80%938. (May)