Rascally raccoons plunder and play in the night without consequence in Wright’s (The Secret Circus, 2009) latest work.
At sunset, the masked marauders—shifty-eyed and mischievous—tiptoe toward town. As the sky darkens, they boldly gather booty and make the local hot tub their washroom. Caught by flashlight, the nocturnal crooks escape to picnic and party elsewhere. Paint and black pen on canvas are Wright’s media of choice. There are no hard edges to her artwork, and paint is often applied in such a way that it allows the raw texture of the canvas underneath to be seen or appears as strokes of solid color. Very simple figures describe both humans and raccoons, which have stylized, stick-figure appendages. Everything in Wright’s compositions is equally detailed, whether in the foreground or background, creating a flattened effect. The text itself is short and playful but, strangely, at times does not match the illustrations, particularly at the story’s climax, when the pranksters make “their greatest escape.” In the artwork, the raccoons seem far from trouble; indeed, they are casually packing up their evening’s picnic. The author, however, does pay close attention to the passage of time, clearly delineating day, dusk and night, making it a good title to discuss the different parts of the evening with young readers.
An enjoyable take on a nocturnal, urban animal’s habits in an accessible story that, with illustrations in better sync, might have resulted in a refreshing outcome. Unfortunately, the result here is pedestrian. (Picture book. 2-5)