This late-summer vignette features two kinds of troublemakers: a bored brother and a bold, thieving raccoon.
The nominal narrator (with his stuffed raccoon accomplice) decides to play pirates. He filches “some rope” (his sister’s sneaker shoelace), a “blindfold” (her scarf) and her stuffed bunny, sending all downstream in his toy boat. Mom intervenes, engendering the bunny’s sopping retrieval and an apology to Sister. Enter a stealthier culprit—seen by readers, not the family—who pilfers both stuffed toys, Brother’s boat and dinosaurs—even, through his bedroom window, his blanket! A funny punch-line spread shows Raccoon snoozing in the tree just outside, a stuffed animal tucked under each paw, the little boat now a bed. Though the kids and toys reunite, it’s clear from the last picture that Raccoon has no intention of reforming. Castillo’s digitally finished ink-and–acetone-transfer illustrations showcase her signature thick, grainy outlines and varied textures, which at turns evoke soft pastel, thin watercolor washes and rendered crayon. A palette of muted greens, red-orange and blue is heavily accented by umber-black (for hair, inky nighttime scenes and some interspersed pictures in silhouette). Children will relate to the everyday sibling tussles and the key roles played by best-loved toys. They’ll also get a peek at the interplay between rural human households and the wild creatures adapting to their presence.
Engaging and worthwhile. (Picture book. 3-7)