'Such an animal is difficult to tame and always likely, when suddenly alarmed, to give our finger a nasty nip with its teeth'. While dipping into The Children's Encyclopaedia of 1910, Axel Scheffler came across a small but indispensable guide to procuring and caring for your pet squirrel. Intrigued by the unlikely notion of a child attempting to keep so wild an animal, Axel created a series of delightful, beautifully finished illustrations to accompany the text.
I found the text in a children's encyclopaedia from 1910 that I picked up at a jumble sale somewhere. They are actually serious instructions - people must have kept pet squirrels at the time. I first illustrated it for my German illustrator friend Rotraut Susanne Berner as a birthday present. Then her husband wanted to publish it in a series of artist's books ( Die Tollen Hefte) and I illustrated it again and then for a third time for a German Publisher. Faber & Faber then bought the rights and so it came back to Britain. I was made "Red Squirrel Ambassador" by Save our Squirrels - I got a certificate - but I was actually never asked to do anything - though I would have been willing of course!