I picked up this book hoping it would help me gently shoo out the two sweet-faced baby raccoons that've moved into my back yard. Instead, in keeping with the spirit of the second half of his book's title, Benicia-based author Gary Bogue is more interested in relating facts and spinning tender, non-saccharine tales about our wild neighbors, and less consumed with driving them away.
Take mockingbirds, a noisy nuisance in many parts of the East Bay: Bogue tells of a man so infuriated with their midnight singing that he leapt out of bed seminude, grabbed a chain saw, and cut down the 60-foot Monterey pine in his front yard. Or woodpeckers, which drill holes in trees and telephone poles not to look for insects, but to fill with acorns for winter. Or the humble carpenter bee, which can easily be prevented from chewing your house or fence with a "carpenter condo" made out of an old 2-by-4 -- or so claims the author, who owns such a condo himself.
I never found out how to keep the raccoons away from my yard. But thanks to Bogue's wry, affecting tales -- and Chuck Todd's detailed, naturalistic illustrations of the animals that live around us -- I no longer want to.