Francine Poulet, the laconic and intrepid animal control officer of Gizzford County, is having a crisis of confidence.
Even though she has won 47 trophies for animal catching and hails from a long line of animal control officers, nothing can prepare her for her encounter with one very unusual and creepy raccoon. Mrs. Bissinger has reported a raccoon that shimmers like a ghost and screeches her name. But Francine’s father always said she was solid and down-to-earth, and she refuses to believe in a talking ghost raccoon. When Francine faces the screaming critter, however, it screams “Frannnnnnnnnnnyyyyy!”—the name only her father called her. She is so spooked she panics, grabbing the raccoon almost by accident and falling three stories off the roof, injuring both her body and her confidence. Only by facing her fears can Francine truly call herself a Poulet once again. Exaggerated illustrations are filled with the energy and humor warmly familiar to readers of the Mercy Watson series. This relatively longer format allows DiCamillo to create more complex secondary characters, who add much to the story. The dreamy conversation between solid Francine and her deceased father adds a needed touch of seriousness to the comic premise.
New readers ready for a challenge and some laughs will welcome more characters from Deckawoo Drive. (Fiction. 6-9)