Nutz! Written by Virginia Frances Schwartz and illustrated by Christina Leist (Red Cedar Club 2012)

This book is a delicious romp. Narrated by Amos, a precocious half-Persion, half-ally, rescue cat, it abounds with chuckle out loud moments.

Amos’ pampered life is disrupted when Tyler, Amos’ owner and BFF, rescues a baby squirrel from Bruno, the brutish boxer from next door.

Tyler has the uncanny ability to hypnotize and tame just about any animal and human except Mrs. Chu, their neighbor. Thank goodness because she brings Amos all kinds of delicious treats like gizzards and sushi from the market where she works.

Everyone in the house ends up paying attention to the baby squirrel and forgetting about poor abandoned Amos. His life is made more miserable because Francesca, Tyler’s mother, has him eating diet cat food called ‘Fancy Feasties for Fat Beasties… It smelled like bad breath. The label read NON-FAT RECYCLED FISH HEADS. ADD WATER FOR A CAT TREAT DELIGHT.” Amos is not impressed. At least Mrs. Chu understands poor Amos’ predicament and attempts to help him.

Just as Amos predicts, the baby squirrel wrecks havoc in the house. But no matter how hard he tries; Amos can’t convince them to get rid of the rodent. At one point Amos realizes he is doomed. “Francesca lifted the baby squirrel up in the air until they were eyeball to eyeball…. The two of them were locked in a circle of quiet. Cats know things. We are psychic. Here’s what I know. It was love at first sight.”

The family has even more trouble than dealing with a squirrel loose in the house. Their rent is overdue, and Mr. Stinky Feet will soon arrive demanding his money and the removal of the rodent.

You will have to read the book yourself to find out if Amos and Nutz, as the squirrel eventually becomes named, reach an accord and if they come up with a way to save them all from ending up on the street.

The illustrations by Christina Leist perfectly compliment the text. She captures the main ideas of each chapter in cat like drawings that add to the hilarity of the narrative.

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