The Troublemaker

illus. by Lauren Castillo. 48p. Clarion. Jun. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780547729916. LC 2012039686.
PreS-Gr 1—A mischievous and very bored boy decides to pilfer his sister's stuffed bunny for his pirate game. Chastised by his mom, he decides to play nicely with his toy raccoon. Too bad he doesn't look around, because some mysterious troublemaker begins to skulk off with the children's toys. Sharp-eyed readers will notice the work of a hoarding real raccoon. The final straw is when the thief steals the boy's blanket overnight. When he awakens, he spots the raccoon surrounded by his belongings asleep in a tree—"What a troublemaker!" The full-color pen-and-ink art, compiled digitally, features strong black lines, silhouettes, and a playful variety of perspectives to follow the action. The use of shadows and illustrations glimpsed through circles (as if readers are peeking in) create a sense of suspense. Hands, paws, toys, and characters pop in and out of the page edges, lending a playful immediacy to the plot. The antics of the raccoon and having the tables turn on the boy helps him understand his sister's feelings of loss and weave a subtle lesson into the bright clever plot.—Marge Loch-Wouters, La Crosse Public Library, WI
The narrator kidnaps his sister's stuffed rabbit, lashes it to his toy boat, and sets it sail on the lake. The boat capsizes, and sister and mom are angry; later when the bunny disappears--again!--they understandably suspect the narrator. (Readers will see that a wild raccoon is the real culprit.) With boldly rendered spreads, the book is at once handsome and child friendly.
While his parents tend garden and his sister plays tea party, the young narrator is bored. Seizing his wooden pirate's sword, he kidnaps his sister's stuffed rabbit, lashes it to his toy boat, and sets it sail on the lake. When the boat capsizes, his sister and mom are angry; later on, when the bunny disappears -- again! -- they understandably suspect the narrator. Readers will see that a wild raccoon is the real culprit, as it snatches not only the wet rabbit but also several other toys, including Rascal, the boy's stuffed raccoon. Come morning this second troublemaker (the wild raccoon) is found snoozing in a tree with his loot, affording troublemaker number one (the narrator) the chance to rescue his sister's beloved bunny. In Castillo's boldly rendered spreads (pen and ink, acetone transfer, digitally compiled), heavy lines define dramatic night tones or active, expressive figures touched with soft, sunlit colors; occasional pages in silhouette add variety. At once handsome and child friendly, this is a good conversation starter for storytimes. joanna rudge long

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