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From the PublisherA raccoon named Skunk and his losing bowling team decide to turn criminal and end up becoming pawns in a bank robbing scheme orchestrated by a clever goat and his partner, the 'sheep lady.' Skunk's narrative, accompanied by ink and watercolor illustrations of the nattily dressed cohorts, re-creates the feel of an old-time gangster movie, but the story is only mildly amusing.
Egan's already strange universe (Distant Feathers, 1998, etc.) continues to expand with this weird and terrific story of a bowling team gone wrong. They are the Rogues, a motley band of creatures—raccoon, ape, rat, walrus—who are bad at bowling. One night, after a few particularly awful games, the frustrated ape kicks over a can of trash. It feels so good to all of them that they start down a path of subversive behavior: Crossing the street when the light said Don't Walk.' Scaring pigeons. We felt dangerous.' They encounter Vincent, who becomes their mentor, and the sheep lady, who trains them in the art of bank robbery. It's all a set-up; Vincent and the sheep lady go free, while the Rogues get seven years each in the slammer. Prison, though scary, does them good, and afterward the Rogues become prosperous and decent citizens of the community. Readers should just sit down and allow the barking unconventionality of this picture-book topic to wash over them. As ever, Egan's richly atmospheric artwork adds immeasurably to the story, evoking every reformed tough-guy movie ever made in plotting and narration, and just as classic.