A Squirrel's Story: A True Tale by Jana Bommersbach, Jeff Yesh
Shirlee Squirrel needs a safe nest for her babies, far from the clutches of a menacing black cat! When she moves into a birdhouse designed to house wood ducks, she and her babies create “home sweet home” in a North Dakota backyard. Raising her children under the watchful eye of the nice man and womanRudy and Williewhose yard they inhabit, Shirlee teaches young Sammy and Sally everything gray tree squirrels need to know. Retold by award-winning Arizona journalist Jana Bommersbach, Shirlee’s true story speaks the universal language of love. Additionally, the book’s accompanying curriculum and activity guides make it perfect for both home and classroom use, providing an entertaining, enriching learning experience.
Winner of the Children's Picture Book Softcover Non-Fiction category at the 2013 USA Best Book Awards. Honorable Mentions at the 2013 Beach, New York, Animals Animals and Great Midwest Book Festivals!
One of the Grand Canyon State's most acclaimed journalists, Jana Bommersbach has been a fixture in Arizona media since the early 1970s, making her mark in both broadcast and print journalism. A North Dakota native, she attended graduate school at the University of Michigan before relocating to Phoenix in 1972. Her first book, The Trunk Murderess: Winnie Ruth Judd, was a national bestseller and was named Arizona's One Book AZ selection in 2010. A Squirrel's Tale is her first picture book.
Jeff Yesh is a freelance illustrator and graphic designer whose award-winning work has been featured in multiple children's books. Born and raised in Indiana, Jeff graduated from Indiana State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. Based in Carmel, Indiana, Jeff enjoys spending time outdoors--biking, camping and attending baseball games--with his wife and two daughters.
The first thing you need to know is that squirrels don't live in birdhouses.
I should know. My name is Shirlee, and I'm a squirrel.
So, how did I end up raising my babies in a birdhouse in the backyard of a nice man and woman in North Dakota?
That's the story I'm going to tell you. It all started with a big, fat, black cat. I don't know where she came from, but one day, there she was — the biggest, fattest, meanest-looking cat I had ever seen. From the minute we laid eyes on each other, I knew she was licking her whiskers.
"Catch me if you can," I teased. I scampered up a tree as fast as I could — climbing much higher than this overweight cat could ever climb. I knew it made her mad that she was stuck on the ground while I was laughing at her from above. I could have jumped from branch to branch to get even farther away, but to be honest, it was fun to sit there and watch that helpless cat meow her head off at me.
I don't speak cat, but if I did, I'd bet that fat feline was saying, "Mrs. Squirrel, you're going to be my supper one of these days."
That thought worried me. So, from that day on, I watched very carefully for that black cat. I started thinking, What if she finds my nest when I have my babies? They will be so little at first. They'll be blind and helpless. They wouldn't be able to get away from her.
I knew I had to find the safest nest ever to protect my children. What should I do?
I was wondering just that when the nice man came out of his house carrying a beautiful, very safe-looking birdhouse.
By then, I'd watched this man a lot. He was very big! At first, his size scared me, but the more I watched him, the more I saw that he was kind.
Every spring, I watched him plant a big garden and I learned that he relied on the nice woman as his "go-fer." He'd ask for something, and she'd "go for" it right away. He'd ask for something else, and she'd go for that, too. The woman always helped the man all she could.
All winter, I watched the man keep his bird feeder full of seeds. He knew the birds had trouble finding food in all that snow and I thought it was a very nice thing for him to do. There were many days I was thankful for his generosity. I always buried seeds and nuts for my winter food, but to be honest, it was much easier some days to just climb into the feeder for a free meal. I didn't think the nice man would mind.
I liked watching him clean up the four birdhouses he'd hung in the yard. He always seemed really happy when the birds came to live in them and raise their babies. He and the nice woman would sit in their lawn chairs for hours to watch the birds. That was another good sign of how nice they were.
I don't speak people, but it didn't take me long to learn that when the woman wanted the man, she called out "Rudy." When he wanted her, he called for "Willie." Any smart squirrel would realize those had to be their names.
On the day I first started worrying about that horrible cat, I watched with great interest as Rudy brought out a splendid new birdhouse. Willie carried out a hammer and nails.
As they nailed the house to a sturdy tree at the back of the yard, I kept hearing the people words "wood" and "duck." At the time, I had no idea what a wood duck was. I'm guessing now that it was the strange, brightly colored bird that showed up several weeks later and was startled to see a mother squirrel with two new babies living in her house.
I don't speak wood duck, but if I did, I'd bet that bird was scolding, "What do you think you're doing in a house meant for me? Don't you know that squirrels don't live in birdhouses?"
Instead of arguing with her in squirrel, which I didn't think she'd understand, I just swatted at her with my paw until she flew away. We never had any more trouble with her after that. The birdhouse was our home, and we settled right in.