A community of raccoons is happy catching their own food, but one dreams of something more gourmet.
“Muddy was ordinary…but he couldn’t stand ordinary raccoon food.” He and his family live by a river, but “he refused to eat frogs, slugs,” and other wild-caught delicacies, preferring “garbage—any leftover food he could find—and he liked to eat it on plates.” He and his community used to live in a city but were driven out into the wilderness by the humans they disturbed. Muddy refuses to give up, though, sneaking across the river to steal food from the new waterside restaurant and bring plates back to his home. The other raccoons, afraid of getting into trouble, wash the plates (as raccoons are wont to do) and take them back, scaring off the diners—and leaving the raccoons with the abandoned feast. Raccoons could be charming protagonists. Unfortunately these, randomly sporting bow ties and scarves, are crudely drawn and inconsistently anthropomorphized, failing to tap into the potential charm of these strange creatures. Despite a strong beginning, the storytelling lacks any bolstering structure, and as a read-aloud it falls flat, with clunky transitions and irrelevant, tongue-tangling details.
Raccoons, their appetites, and their washing habits should be a winning combination, but this story is unlikely to satisfy. (Picture book. 5-8)