Persistence pays off for an urban raccoon determined to upgrade his garbage-based diet.
Weary of scrounging “rotten junk” from rubbish bins and hearing that the animals in the nearby zoo get fresh food every day, Roscoe tries to sneak in: first disguised as a tortoise beneath a green umbrella, then as a penguin with a pointy ice cream cone for a beak. Unsurprisingly, neither silly disguise fools the surly zookeeper. Finally, at the monkeys’ invitation, he steals the zookeeper’s keys to join them in their cage—whereupon they leave him chowing down and scamper off to set all the animals free. Chaos ensues. Done in a retro style with flatly applied, low-contrast colors, the cartoon illustrations are well-stocked with active, comically expressive figures. The narrative’s poker-faced tone (“ ‘That’s not for pests like you!’ growled the zookeeper. He was not a good-tempered man”) adds a similarly antique flavor. The locale isn’t specified beyond “a park in the middle of a big city,” but some of the skyscrapers visible beyond the zoo’s low walls may look familiar to young New Yorkers. In any case, at day’s end Roscoe generously offers the last banana in the bucket to the frazzled zookeeper and saunters off with a belch.
A droll episode, with any lesson or moral beyond, maybe, “try, try again” absent or well-buried. (Picture book. 5-7)