Lita Judge. Athenum Books for Young Readers, 2014
Penguin has the soul of an eagle. But with no feathers and those tiny little wings, signing up for flight school with feathered friends of the bird community seems fruitless. Penguin practices for weeks, but when the time comes to take flight, he plunges into the ocean. With a little help and ingenuity from the other birds, Penguin soars with the wind at last. Penguin is so impressed with the Flight School’s ability to help birds fly, that he brings his friend Ostrich. Yes, an ostrich; dense bones, not aerodynamically shaped . . .you can almost see what’s coming. This picture book ends with Penguin telling the flight school instructors that “My friend Ostrich has the soul of a swallow.” This ending, coupled with Judge’s *adorable* and expressive illustrations (this lady can draw birds!) take this picture book’s charm factor sky high.
Adam Rubin, author. Daniel Salmieri, illustrator.
Those Darn Squirrels (Clarion Books, 2009)
Those Darn Squirrels and the Cat Next Door (Clarion Books, 2011)
Those Darn Squirrels Fly South (Clarion Books, 2012)
Old Man Fookwire is an antisocial grump. He only likes birds, paining birds, and eating cottage cheese with pepper. He has a love\hate relationship with the squirrels that live in his yard. When they eat the birds’ food and sneak into his house, you’ll find yourself shaking your fist and yelling “those darn squirrels” along with old man Fookwire. But in two of the three books, the squirrels help Fookwire overcome the loneliness that sets in when the birds fly south for the winter. My family’s favourite of the three picture books is the one that features Muffins, a cat who moves in next door to old man Fookwire. Muffins scares the birds, interrupts Fookwire’s painting, and gives the squirrels wedgies, which is “not an easy thing to do, because generally squirrels do not wear underpants.” Hysterical. Every time my daughters see this book they scramble to find the page where the squirrels skin is bunched up to reveal their bare buttocks. Rubin and Salmieri have been touted two of the weirdest, funniest guys working in kids’ lit today–I would have to agree.