cover image RACCOON TUNE


Nancy E. Shaw, , illus. by Howard Fine. . Holt, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-6544-2

Raccoons morph from suburban menaces to cute critters on a mission, sauntering jauntily to the rhythm of Shaw's (Sheep in a Jeep) catchy verses. The masked band sets out on a moonlit "June night,/ Just-right-for-raccoon night" in search of a trashcan to topple and garbage to gobble. Thwarted by tight-fitting lids, they "crash cans,/ Mash and smash and bash cans," and strain to get at the yummy prize inside. In one standout spread, the three babies play one-sided tug-of-war with their mama's tail, helping her pull off a trash can's top. When the lid finally pops, the receptacle sails off down a hill, the raccoons in hot pursuit, and lands in a stream with a splash, scaring a bunch of bullfrogs off the page. But all is not lost: "Oh my whiskers!/ How delish!/ The can is full of flopping fish" and the family enjoys a trout dinner. Fine's (Piggie Pie!) painterly illustrations, in a lush nighttime palette of deep blues and greens, perfectly capture the mischief in the creatures' expressive faces (one baby raccoon even mimics the Home Alone star's famous gesture as the runaway can rolls downhill). Kids who fantasize about life after curfew will root for these determined creatures as they march to their own midnight music. Ages 3-7. (May)