A baby raccoon separated from his family climbs aboard a canoe. The illustrations convey the raccoon's fright as he floats past a "great big alligator." Five warblers call "Zweet, zweet, zweet," bringing him comfort until his family meets him on another mud bank. Ages 2-6. (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
While foraging with his family, a young raccoon climbs into a boat that floats free of the mud and floats downstream. As he floats past pelicans, wading birds, a snake, a big alligator (yes, raccoons are found in almost all of the United States) and some turtles, his eyes widen. Always in the background of this adventure are the mother and two siblings who are following, until the boat bumps against the banks and the relieved little raccoon jumps out. Preschoolers will appreciate the ambivalent pleasures of an adventure away from mom, but will be reassured by her presence in the background. Some of the animals are identified in the text (a merganser or warbler) but others are not (is that an egret or a heron?). Arnosky's paintings have a pleasant, luminous quality and the raccoon looks winsome enough to elicit plenty of "awwws" without falling into anthropormorphism. A nice addition to the Arnosky library of quiet stories that suit read-aloud time, and in this case, the growing reader's need for a few harder words, but not too many. 2001, G. P. Putnam's Sons, $15.99. Ages 4 to 7. Reviewer: Susan Hepler
PreS-Gr 2-Without anthropomorphizing his animal characters, Arnosky has created an information-packed story with enormous appeal for young children. Through the simple narrative, children follow an adventure of a baby raccoon that crawls into a boat that floats away from his mother and her two other offspring as they dig in the mud for food. Sentences are short, descriptive ("Mother found a crunchy crawfish"), and easy to read aloud. Suspense builds gently as baby raccoon avoids snakes, alligators, and the water. Through the illustrations, however, readers are reassured that he will be safe because mother can be seen following the boat. Arnosky's illustrations are bold and large, conveying accurate information about the swamp environment in which the story occurs. The book can serve as a springboard for further research about the animals and plant life of that ecosystem. It's hard to imagine a more ideal book to read to a group or to share with primary-grade children-it offers just the right amount of tension with a reassuring resolution.-Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
A young raccoon goes for an unexpected solo trip through a swamp. More interested in climbing into an abandoned boat than in digging for crawfish with his mother and siblings, the youngster is nevertheless distressed when his family's efforts dislodge the mud holding the boat, sending him downstream. Arnosky (Wild and Swampy, 2000, etc.) uses a watercolor palette dominated by swampy greens to create a lush, self-contained world in which the surface of the water blends imperceptibly into the general background. The raccoon's trip takes himand young readerspast a microcosm of swamp wildlife both malignant and benign, including snakes, an alligator, a family of mergansers, and a bevy of wading birds, as all the while the raccoon's family paces his progress from the shore. The all-encompassing green and the characteristically quiet, present-tense text effectively recreate the muffled, otherworldly atmosphere of a swamp. At the end, a relieved raccoon is reunited with his family, none the worse for his adventure. The events that lead to raccoon's voyage seem somewhat contrived and at times his expression is just a tiny bit too anthropomorphic, but these are only little quibbles with a story that will resonate with young children still exploring their own boundaries while at the same time introducing them painlessly to an environment likely as unfamiliar as the North Pole. (Picture book. 2-6)