FICTION
Muddy: The Raccoon Who Stole Dishes
NorthSouth. Apr. 2019. 32p. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9780735843370.
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PreS-Gr 2–Muddy Whiskers is a young raccoon whose preference for human leftovers eaten on plates causes trouble for his parents and their neighbors. All the raccoons who live by Mud River once lived in the city but were banished for eating from garbage bins. Not wanting further trouble, they pledged to stop eating people’s leftovers and now enjoy clams gathered from the river. But Muddy can’t make that promise, and when a “fancy new restaurant” opens across the river, he steals one of its plates and piles it with whatever leftovers he can find. This becomes a habit, and Muddy discovers he can even take food from inside the establishment. When his parents and the other raccoons discover the pile of plates that Muddy has accumulated, they bring them back to the restaurant. But the parade of plate-carrying raccoons frightens away the restaurant’s patrons, leaving lots of food-filled plates. The illustrations are executed in a soft blue-gray palette for nocturnal scenes and sand-colored gold for the expanse of shore and birch trees where the animals spend their days. The restaurant and its fleeing diners are depicted in bright blue.

VERDICT While the illustrations are lovely, the story lacks tension. Raccoons that deprive a restaurant of its business and eat its food with impunity is a strange message to share with children.

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