A Girl, A Raccoon, and the Midnight Moon
by Karen Romano Young ill by Jessixa Bagley
Pearl is a book girl, a library girl. Daughter of the head of circulation, born in the Lancaster Avenue Library, and raised by a tightly knit community of staff members, Pearl’s life revolves around the world of the libraries and stories.
The Lancaster Avenue branch of the New York City Library features unique architectural details: mezzanine with a glass floor, spiral staircase with an intricate wrought iron banister, and a beautiful garden. The focal point of the garden is a statue of Edna St. Vincent Millay, affectionately known as Vincent. Sadly, the old building suffers from neglect. Few patrons visit the library, circulation statistics are dismal, and program attendance is dwindling.
Then the unthinkable happens: the head of the Vincent statue is stolen! Pearl is devastated. She devotes her energy, talent, and resources to finding the stone head and restoring it to the garden. Her efforts create new library friendships and alliances within the community, including the local school, a homeless man, and a newspaper reporter.
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Karen Roman Young’s storytelling breaks the fourth wall. She signals the departure from third person narrative with parentheses and sidebars. The sidebars are a particularly distinguishing story element. They are penned by a raccoon and offer commentary on a potpourri of topics relating to library protocols, elaborating on story composition, and offering a differing point-of-view. Each one is a choice little gem. I marked several of them with tiny red hearts. (Yes, I like to mark books with my own personal symbols, often in color.) 👀
Jessixa Bagley's delightful full-page inked black and white illustrations add to the story's charm. Beginning with the initial spot image of a raccoon face peering out of a window, depictions of the animals, while winsome, are anatomically accurate.
This novel for middle grade readers is a a fantasy, a mystery, a realistic portrayal of a New York City neighborhood library. It’s a story of activism. It’s a love letter to New York City neighborhoods, community libraries, the power of stories, and Edna St Vincent Millay.
Fun with Mallomars
The remarkable family of reading raccoons are led by Mrs. Mallomar. She is a skillful writer, editing the midnight edition of the Moon. In addition to news, the newspaper features Rax Rex, a book recommendation section. Meet some Mallomar raccoons and see three of their recommended books. Check out other titles mentioned in A Girl, A Raccoon, and the Midnight Moon.