Maria Dellaventura, a Huguenot resident, loves squirrels. So much so that an adorable squirrel is the star of her new, self-published children’s book Nobody Likes a Pest.
About Nobody Likes a Pest
The story is about Sneaky Seymour, a very neighborhood-savvy squirrel who’s always looking for a snack. As a tiny little guy, he also has to dodge cars and other big predators. In a nutshell: He’s just looking to get by in a suburban town.
Problems arise when Seymour can’t stop eating his favorite snack, which happens to be seed from Mr. Pepper’s bird feeder. Needless to say, Mr. Pepper doesn’t like this, so he tries unsuccessfully to keep Seymour out of his backyard.
Other characters in the book include a very lethargic cat, friendly birds and Mr. Pepper’s wife—who’s dealing with her own relationship problems with her husband.
Themes of Love and Teamwork
The story is cute, humorous and packed with adventure that readers of all ages will enjoy–especially if they love animals. But as fun as it is to follow Sneaky Seymour through his antics, there’s something bigger about the book. Messages of love and the importance of teamwork resonate cover to cover. Without giving away too much more of the plot, readers might be surprised to learn who the real pest is by the time they finish the book.
“It’s about teaching kids how to help each other,” Dellaventura, a mom of three, said. “It shows what can be done when people do nice things and work together.”
Nobody Likes a Pest is recommended for ages 2-8, but is a delightful read for both kids of any age and adults. It was written in an easy-to-follow format using rhymes to keep younger children engaged. Each page comes to life with vibrant illustrations of the characters and scenes designed by Ukrainian artist, Mykhailo Ridkous.
“He did a wonderful job. And the bird feeder in the book is the actual bird feeder from my yard. I sent him a picture of it, and he drew it perfectly,” Dellaventura said.
Another theme in the book is the benefit of second chances.
“If you do something wrong, you can always fix it and get a second chance to redeem yourself,” the author explained.
To help kick off the launch of Nobody Likes a Pest, Dellaventura will read from the book at Everything Goes Book Cafe, located at 208 Bay St., on Saturday, May 14, at 2pm. Books will be for sale at the event, and they can also be purchased online at Etsy.
A Passion for Writing
Dellaventura has always had a love for writing. She’s written poetry and even won a few contests. Nobody Likes a Pest is Dellaventura’s second published book. Her first was “Life After Loss: Healing Piece by Peace.” Written in 2018, the book is a biographical story of loss and healing.
“Ever since I was young I loved to write, but I never really had time,” Dellaventura said. “I wanted to write a serious book, and I wanted to do a children’s book.”
The Real Sneaky Seymour
The character of Sneaky Seymour is based on a real squirrel who paid a visit to Dellaventura’s South Shore backyard. He wasn’t a pest, but definitely very entertaining to watch, according to the author.
“During COVID, I was in my screen house with my puppy one morning, and I saw this little sneaky squirrel climbing along the fence behind the bushes, peaking his little head out,” Dellaventura explained. “He waited for the birds to leave, hopped on my shed and he was hanging by his feet. He threw his body over and was eating the seeds out of the bird feeder.”
Not only was this wildlife encounter adorable, it’s relatable to many families on Staten Island and around the city, Dellaventura explained.
“I knew the squirrel was the thing to write about. Not only was this scenario that I saw adorable, but I think a lot of people have similar things going on in their yard and they can relate to it,” she said.
With his fluffy tail, cute face and amazing agility, the real Sneaky Seymour made the perfect muse for this local Staten Island writer.
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