A Girl, a Raccoon, and the Midnight Moon

Chronicle. Jan. 2020. 392p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781452169521.
Gr 5 Up–Pearl’s scream out the window of the Lancaster Avenue Public Library brings everyone running. The head of the courtyard statue of a favorite local poet is missing. Thus begins the search for Edna St. Vincent Millay’s head and the battle to keep Pearl’s beloved library branch open. The city wants to sell the building to real estate developers, but Pearl is not about to let that happen. Her mother is the circulation librarian; Pearl has grown up among the stacks. If it closes, what will happen to them—or to her friends who have practically raised her, or the reading raccoons, actual raccoons who read and write and live in the basement? Pearl learns new talents and makes new friends as she fights to make her library branch important to the rest of her community. Young has crafted a story about a library that quickly needs to become the hub it once was in order to survive. She keeps the story light with talking, or rather reading and writing, raccoons, but it still touches on complex issues of family dynamics, homelessness, and community. The text can be dense at times, and the character’s solution a bit twisty, but the story is solidly entertaining.
VERDICT Upper elementary readers who like magical realism will enjoy this novel, as will younger readers at high reading levels. A strong addition to the fiction section.

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