Pearl has grown up in the Lancaster Avenue branch of the New York City Library, where her mom is a librarian. But with circulation down and a crumbling building that’s expensive to fix, she’s worried that she won’t have much of a future there. Then something horrible happens: the head of a statue of poet Edna St. Vincent Millay goes missing from the garden. The mystery of what happened to the statue combined with the plight of the library brings community members together to determine what they all really want for the place they call home.
A Girl, A Raccoon, and the Midnight Moon by Karen Romano Young is a sweet coming of age tale about what it means to create a community of caring individuals amidst the backdrop of a larger city, and what those people can do when they are informed about a cause. There’s also a touch of magical realism in the form of a family of literate raccoons, who have taught themselves to read and even report for their own newspaper aimed at nocturnal creatures.
When the statue’s head disappears and the library is threatened with closure to make way for affordable housing, Pearl believes that if enough people know what they could do at a library, they would care enough to convince the city to maintain it and keep it open. She enlists the help of new friends and other allies to put more library cards into the hands of the people who live around her and go to school with her. She also has a tall order of changing the minds of some people who would rather see new development win out over old buildings.
With her eclectic group of allies, Pearl also sets about solving the mystery of the missing head, and finding the answer will upend everything she thinks she knows.
A Girl, A Raccoon, and the Midnight Moon is for anyone who loves to read, loves to visit libraries, and believes in the power of community action. I recommend it for readers aged 9 to 13.
The publisher provided me with a copy of this title in exchange for my honest review.