Rascal is a perfectly crafted book. It's entertaining and simple enough to appeal to youngsters, yet has enough complexity and fine prose to enchant adult readers. I loved it when I first read it at age eleven, and I loved it even more this second time through, when I'm old enough to...well, old enough...This is Sterling North's account of 1918-1919, the year he was eleven and added a baby raccoon to his already large and unwieldy menagerie. He already had pet skunks, woodchucks, cats, a Saint Bernard dog named Wowser, and my favorite, Poe-the-Crow. Poe lived in the belfry of the church and called out "What fun! What fun!" to people arriving for church services. As Sterling's constant companion and everybody's entertainer, Rascal is the star of the show. He's a show-off and a bit of a bandit, stealing shiny objects and pilfering sweet corn from neighborhood gardens. He loves to catch crayfish, ride on the merry-go-round, and snuggle up in bed with his owner. When I read this as a kid I was tuned in to all the animals. This time I found so much more depth to enjoy. I'd forgotten about how his father let him build an 18-foot canoe in the living room! Rascal's charming antics aside, this is a story of how a motherless boy and his indulgent, good-natured father made an enviable life for themselves in rural Wisconsin almost 100 years ago, despite the uncertainties of war and fears of the Spanish flu epidemic. I vow to revisit this heartwarming book more often in the future.