by Nancy Bo Flood on March 11, 2014


Two totally different and unusual books about friendship, but both so fun.

For the younger reader/ listener:

THOSE DARN SQUIRRELS and the CAT NEXT DOOR   by Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri

How to make a friend?  Little Old Lady Hu with her very opinionated cat, Muffins, moves in next door to very grumpy Old Man Fookwire who LOVES his bird friends.  The weather is warming. The birds are just beginning to return from their winter’s journey.  New neighbor, Muffins, loves to terrify the birds. He also wouldn’t mind nibbling a few. In this hilarious picture book, some new friendships are made; others are not.  But nobody gets eaten.  This book is a fun romp through the foibles of human behavior, cat behavior, bird and squirrel behavior, and the challenge of creating friendships.

In the end, “Old Man Fookwire never warmed up to his new neighbors.  He was a grump, after all. But Little Old Lady Hu became good chums with the birds and squirrels.  Each Saturday when the bakery was closed, Old Lady Hu brought all the unsold cakes and pies and cookies home.  She set them out on her picnic table, and everyone gathered for a delicious, fun-filled feast.”

But not . . . Muffins, the cat, of course!  Some friendships are just not meant to happen.  Enjoy sharing this very funny book about the “delicious” and delightful aspects of friendship.

For Older Readers:


NIGHTINGALE’S NEST, written by Nikki Loftin, creates an entirely different type of mood and story about friendship.  Based on the Hans Christian Andersen story, “The Nightingale,”  Nikki spins an atmosphere of magical realism and adventure, wrong choices and then a fallen hero’s fight to redeem himself and rescue his friend.  The unfolding of this story sometimes reminds one of the magical make-believe land in Bridge to Terabithia.  In this journey Little John becomes friends with Gayle who is actually a magical nightingale embodied in the physical form of a child – an orphaned, foster child.  Gayle’s foster family is downright nasty.  In desperation Gayle escapes the foster home and runs away.  But she does not run far.  She hides in a sort of sheltering “nest” she builds in a tree on a nearby vacant lot.  The property is owned by the very mean, very selfish and wealthy Mr. King.  Little John and his father are employed by Mr. King as landscapers.  When Mr. King hears Gayle’s beautiful, intoxicating singing, he decides he must have it – Gayle’s voice.  He orders Little John to trick Gayle into coming to his home.  She will be asked to sing and Mr. King will steal her voice. What can Little John do but agree?  At what price will he sell friendship and betray his friend?

Nikki Loftin spins captivating “re-told stories” creating images that sing.  Her first book, The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy, 2012, was recently released in paperback form.  NIGHTINGALE’S NEST, just out in February 2014, has already made the Girl’s Life  2014 Must-Read List

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