In this humorous fantasy for all ages, Squirrel Girl, a passenger pigeon, and a calico cat attempt to organize the wildlife to try to save the colonial forests and their own lives. With the unknowing help of the calico cat's human partner, a radical Spanish naturalist, Squirrel Girl and her friends take on the seemingly impossible. Determined to do some good and justify the fact that her mother died to save her life, she gets predators and prey to cooperate for one spectacular attempt to discourage settlers and send them back home. There is a clear villain, Finn, a man who enslaves the indentured servants he brings to America and forces them to clear the land for development, and most animals are more than willing to fight against him. But her cause is hopeless, because the stream of settlers is endless, and most of them are not like Finn but are just struggling like the wild critters to exist. So Squirrel Girl takes on one last challenge--coexistence with man.
"Back in the best days of the Squirrel Nation, we might have been able to stop this or at least send out the call for help. If we wanted to, we could send a message as far as what is now New York or Georgia or Illinois or Mississippi. They were all connected in those days by a forest that seemed never to end. But we wouldn't have had to call for help, because if one home was lost it was easy to find one just as good or maybe better, and not very far away, either." Just imagining it made the speaker's tired old eyes sparkle.
"Are those places far, Great-Gram? Those places with all the good home trees?" Lambert Squirrel wiped his tears and waited, spiky tail up and mouth hanging open in a big "O."
The wizened old squirrel matriarch thought over his question. "Far back in times that will never come again, Bertie," she finally said. "Millions of lost trees and hundreds of squirrel generations back. According to what my own Great-Great-Grandma told me, compared with those ancient forests, that little wood lot you're crying about would have seemed smaller than a drop of water in those big storm clouds overhead." She glanced up at a darkening sky.
"But our nest was in that woods. I had nuts buried all over there, and the same ground isn't even there. It was all gobbled up by the big yellow machine." Lambert looked ready to cry again.
"I know, I know." Great-Grandma looked tearful herself. "It's the same story over and over, wherever wild families live and people want to live."
She put her old thin cheek on Lambert's chubby one and they stood hugging for a few moments, both of them trying not to snuffle. Then she continued, talking to herself as much as to Lambert.
"I saw Wilmadene Woodchuck wandering around over there this morning looking for her old burrow. She was a pitiful sight nosing around in the ruins made by that huge earth moving machine. But I told her, just like I'm telling you, there's nothing we can do about it anymore except move on and make a new home."
She shook her head and sighed. "I helped Wilmadene find a place under the bushes in the little park by the library. I would have liked to move there myself, but there's already a squirrel nest in every tree, even the ones that aren't really big enough. But my new nest tree isn't so bad. I just don't know how long it will be before somebody decides to get rid of it."
"Our new nest is all right too, but there aren't any other trees nearby to jump into.
And maples don't make acorns."
"Maple seeds are delicious, and there's nothing as scrumptiously sweet as maple juice. Anyway, come on, Bertie," Great-Grandma said, "those big clouds are starting to leak. You'd best come home with me till the rain stops. Your mama knows you're with me and safe."
They headed for a solitary, tall tree-of-heaven in a little patch of dust and weeds behind a six-flat apartment building. Trying to reach the sunlight it had grown up scrawny, and the leaf canopy above the buildings was rather thin, so that Great-Grandma's nest swayed with the slightest wind. With the coming storm it was dipping and rising like a great rocker, but the nest had been built for all weathers and would keep them secure and almost dry.