A GIRL, A RACCOON, AND THE MIDNIGHT MOON
by Karen Romano Young
Illustrated by Jessixa Bagley
Middle Grade with a touch of Magical Realism
JANUARY 20th, 2020!!!
In a slightly fantastical New York City, one very special library branch has been designated for possible closure. Bookish, socially awkward Pearl, the daughter of the librarian, can't imagine a world without the library—its books, its community of oddballs, its hominess. When the head of their Edna St. Vincent Millay statue goes missing, closure is closer than ever. But Pearl is determined to save the library. And with a ragtag neighborhood library crew—including a constantly tap-dancing girl who might just be her first friend, an older boy she has a crush on, and a pack of raccoons who can read and write—she just might be able to.
With an eclectic cast of richly drawn characters, a hint of just-around-the-corner magic, footnotes, sidebars, and Jessixa Bagley's classic illustrations throughout, this warm-hearted, visually magnificent tale of reading and believing from beloved author Karen Romano Young tells of a world where what you want to believe can come true.
With a tinsy-tiny touch of fantasy, this is a lovely tale about community, friendship and a wonderful library.
Pearl's world rotates around the library. She's a shy girl, who loves living between books and the library world. But not everything is bright ink and shiny pages. The library isn't doing well, and when the head of the almost never visited statue goes missing, no one but Pearl really seems to care. Determined to save the library and figure out what happened to her beloved statue's head, she enters the sidewalks and streets. Soon, she discovers a few friends and more.
There's a touch of whimsical to the writing, which immediately draws in and creates the atmosphere of an endearing read. Pearl is easy to connect with right away. Although socially awkward...or maybe because...her heart of gold shines bright and makes her someone to cheer for from the very first pages. Not only library lovers will enjoy the scene, but the idea of her centering herself on only a library adds the right touch for the dusting of fantasy which comes later on with the raccoons. It's a fun read with enough energy to keep it interesting.
The entire book is sprinkled with illustrations, something I always love t see in middle grade books. These help spice of the story and give something for the reader to look forward to. There are also side-bar notes which explain an entire slew of facts and information in a serious, but not without humor, way. While I found these interesting, my own children weren't as taken in and skipped many f them. There are also footnotes to help point out books where quotes and such come from.
I really enjoyed the way Pearl discovers such wonderful, and even if odd, friends. The community around her warms the heart as well and shows that there is support if a person looks. It's a warming tale and awakens the love for libraries as well. Unfortunately, it was a bit slow in spots and simply a little long. But I enjoyed reading it and am sure there are middle graders out there who will enjoy Pearls adventure quite a bit.
Karen Romano Young is a writer, illustrator, and science journalist. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and two large, fluffy dogs.
Jessixa Bagley is an award-winning author and illustrator. She lives in Seattle, Washington with her husband, adorable son and a slew of houseplants.