by Sterling North

Paperback, 1998



Local notes

PB Nor




Puffin Books (1998), Edition: Reissue, 208 pages


The author recalls his carefree life in a small midwestern town at the close of World War I, and his adventures with his pet raccoon, Rascal.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

208 p.; 5.05 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member aakauff
This coming-of-age tale is the story of the author’s own adventures as a young boy who adopts a mischievous raccoon, appropriately named Rascal. A Newbery Honor book, Rascal is a great adventure for young readers interested in wildlife and the outdoors. Sterling is doing his best to keep the baby
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raccoon in check, but Rascal seems determined to live up to his name, and it soon becomes apparent that the living arrangement cannot last. Originally published in 1963, Rascal is timeless for its lessons on friendship, growing up, and letting go. Set during the years of World War I, the memoir is also a moving account of a much different time in American history. North’s superb writing style and the authenticity of the story ensure that Rascal will continue to be a hit for generations of young readers. Includes illustrations. For ages 9-12. Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member slmturner
An eleven year old boy, Sterling, lived in the early 1900's. He loved hunting, fishing, and the outdoors. He comes across a raccoon and her babies one day. He decides to keep a baby raccoon for himself. Sterling named his newest pet Rascal. Rascal makes many friends, a dog, a horse, many people, as
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well as some enemies like Sterling's pet crow and their neighbor. Sterling and Rascal embark on many adventures together, but Rascal gets into trouble by stealing food from neighbors' farms. Eventually, Sterling has to put a collar and leash on his best friend as well as keep him locked up in a cage. As winter turned into spring, Rascal turned into a young virile male raccoon. Sterling realizes that for the safety of his best friend and for the happiness of the raccoon he must let him go.

The author uses plenty of imagery and detail about the scenery. I could almost feel like I was actually there. It was heart warming reading about the wonderful friendship that develops between Sterling and Rascal. It almost makes me want to get a pet raccoon as well. There is one part near the end of the book where Sterling mentions how he is in a wheelchair for one winter. That is all it says. It left me very curios as to why he ended up in a wheelchair. The end of the story is the same way, it left me wanting to read more. Overall, I thought it was an excellent book.

This would be a good story to read to a classroom to get students interested in books. The students would most likely enjoy the adventures that Sterling has as well as the trouble that Rascal gets into. After the story I could suggest several other books for further reading by the students. Students could also do a writing project. They could write their own version of what they think might happen next. There is not a right or wrong answer. It will let them use their imagination and practice writing.
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LibraryThing member debnance
Rascal is a raccoon who befriends a young Sterling North. Together with Sterling's indulgent father, the raccoon and boy traverse the wilds of Wisconsin, camp near lakes, and watch wild deer and mink. It's a small book that draws beautiful pictures of life in America during the latter part of World
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War I.
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LibraryThing member barefootTL
ELIB 530A LibraryThing – Part D – Realistic Fiction – popular
This story takes place in 1917 in rural Wisconsin. It is about an eleven year old boy, Sterling, who finds a baby raccoon and names it Rascal. Sterling is alone much of the time because his father is away a lot for work and his
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mother died. But he is very content with a North woods type of life of camping, hunting and fishing. He and Rascal become inseparable and the two of them have many adventures as they go about their daily life. Rascal is well tolerated by the local people until he begins to raid neighbors’ crops. Sterling has to get a collar and leash for Rascal and he has to build a pen to keep him in which makes neither of them happy. As time goes on and Rascal becomes full-grown his behavior begins to change. Sterling is faced with the realities of keeping a wild animal as a pet and has to make the hard decision of letting Rascal go free.
I loved this book. I lived in rural Wisconsin for years and camped a great deal and it was like going back in time to some of my favorite places and times when I read this book. It wasn’t hard to imagine what many of the places and people looked like during that time because much of it reminded me of times in my own adolescence that I had been in the far north woods where life is lived much closer to nature’s rhythms and change comes more slowly. I think anyone who likes Gary Paulsen books (Hatchet etc.) would thoroughly enjoy this book. It is a book that can transport a person to a beautiful place and time that feels safer than today, yet still contains personal dilemmas to surmount. It is a great summer read.
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LibraryThing member ecugary
Sterling North does an outstanding job of making the reader feel like they are right there. The imagery and sensory detail included in this book will keep every reader turning pages.

This book would be a great way to introduce literary devices to students. Students can discuss terms such as sensory
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details together and look for examples within the text.
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LibraryThing member brett28332833
Rascal is such an amazing book, at the beginning it's adventurous at the middle it's funny and at the end it's sad! Maureen Fergus is like a diamond you have to expose her to the world then let her shine!
LibraryThing member labfs39
Things are pretty quiet in rural Wisconsin in 1917, unless, that is, you are eleven-year-old Sterling North. An avid naturalist, Sterling raises a variety of unusual pets: Poe, the crow, two skunks, a drooling St. Bernard named Wowzer, and assorted cats. His inseparable best friend, though, is
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Rascal, a young raccoon. Sterling relates the tales of his and Rascal's misadventures over the course of a year. From the unfinished canoe in the living room to the fenced off Christmas tree, life in the North household is unconventional, but warm and radiating that sense of childhood innocence in nature that often feels absent in today's less rural world.

I listened to the audio of this book with my eight-year-old daughter, and she immediately began trying to tame a crow (raccoons being verboten near our chickens). Jim Weiss has a rich, warm voice and narrates the story beautifully. I think I actually preferred listening to this one rather than reading it, although it's been many years since I first read it. My only reservation with the book is the manner in which Sterling acquires Rascal; but the ending compensates. Well-deserving of the Newbery Honor.
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LibraryThing member mirrani
A classic adventure for animal lovers of all ages, especially those young rascals who love to explore the outdoors. The writing is easy for younger readers to follow and the plot is enjoyable enough for parents to share as a chapter story at bedtime, planting the seed for dreams of the wilderness
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and animal fun through the evening. This story will emphasize the need to care for an animal in an all around way, incorporating natural habitat and instinct with a desire to bond with their human companion, but it also reminds us that there are times when our wild friends need to return to a life on their own. The theme may be a common one among books where wild animals are adopted as pets, but I can't imagine a more enjoyable read, or a story that better deserves the Newbery Honor. Every library should have this on their shelves.
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LibraryThing member flamingrosedrakon
This is a beautifully poignant book that tells the story of a very special year in the life of the author when he was young. Of how with no mother and a family that was there but not there how he found something to keep him moving forth. And yet at the same time as we all learn while growing up
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sometimes it is those that we love that we have to make the hardest decisions for that will ultimately affect us in the end.

The author does a beautiful job in explaining his world to the reader so much that his aunt was right. He catches the moment just as he had seen it - the bright colors, the wonders of the world around him, the emotions that ran wild, the challenges, the pain and the love. He brings you so much into the world that there is no room for imagination since you right there with him - face into the wind, banded tail flowing out behind you.

What else makes this book so sweetly sad is the fact that even though we hear about what it took to raise Rascal it is also about a tender moment in the history of the United States. You see a country that is on the edge of moving forward and yet of being blissfully stuck in time - a world that is right the way it but still facing the destructive change of its innocence. This is so truthfully given with the mentions of progress and the places the author casually mentions as no longer existing as well as the joy of shooting passenger pigeons by the bushel although there are no more around.

If you want a book that will take you back, a book that will have you sighing and remembering back when you were young truly if you are of the older generations this is it. Rascal will enter your life as he did Sterling and once he does he won't ever release your heart again.
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LibraryThing member wichitafriendsschool
Skunks, woodchucks, a crow named Poe, an absent-minded father, aneighteen foot, half-finished canoe in the living room—welcome to the North home! Nothing's surprising at the North residence. Not even eleven-year-old Sterling's new pet raccoon. Rascal is only a baby when young Sterling brings him
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home to join his unusual family. The mischievous raccoon and Sterling are partners and best friends for a perfect year of adventure—swimming, fishing, exploring the countryside together—until the spring day when everything suddenly changes and Sterling realizes he must let Rascal go. This heartwarming and delightful memoir of a boy's friendship with a wild animal, and his growing awareness of the world around him, has become a treasured classic. Rascal has taken his place among literature's most captivating and endearing animals.
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LibraryThing member Brettical
Rascal is a perfect book! It's funny it's sad it's very entertaining. I wish Sterling North was still writing books because that guy has talent!
LibraryThing member KimSalyers
just starting to read this book. I have never read it before but I have seen the movie. the movie was good
this is also a true story
LibraryThing member KimSalyers
just starting to read this book. I have never read it before but I have seen the movie. the movie was good
this is also a true story
LibraryThing member fingerpost
Although excellent, this one seemed an odd selection for a Newbery Honor. Rascal is a memoir, not a novel. It is also more of a paean to nature and an old fashioned rustic way of life than it is a story. The writing is beautiful in a poetic way. It's not that today's 12-year-old wouldn't understand
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what they were reading in this book... but I don't think many 12-year-olds could appreciate the beauty of every sentence, or the value of a book in which plot isn't particularly relevant.
Sterling North finds a baby raccoon when he is 12 years old, and like so many other wild animals in his past, he takes it home to keep as a pet. His mother is dead, and he is the only child of an indulging and permissive father, who even takes weeks long business trips, leaving Sterling at home on his own.
The time period is World War I. Sterling has an older brother serving in France, but his Summer and fall are all wrapped around Rascal, the raccoon he has brought home. Most episodes are about the raccoon, but in others, Rascal is just a player in a larger story about Sterling's childhood in the small town upper mid-west.
It's a lovely book. My suspicion however, is that only the very brightest, or most nature-loving of today's adolescents will appreciate it.
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LibraryThing member bell7
Sterling North recalls the year of 1918-19 when he raised a raccoon kit called Rascal at the age of 11. In many ways it was a simpler time, and despite the fact that his brother was away at war and his mother had died four years previous, the story has more than a touch of nostalgia as Sterling
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pretty much has the run of the place while his father works or leaves on business trips. He's building a canoe, having adventures with his animal friends - including a crow and a dog named Wowser, in addition to Rascal - dealing with school bullies, and going to the local fair.

I didn't really know what to expect when I picked up this title, working my way haphazardly through all the Newbery Award and Honor books. I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun this was to read as an older Sterling reminisces about one glorious year and contemplates the changing times of his community and the world at large. Some older children's books don't age well, but this one has a lot of charm and lasting appeal.
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LibraryThing member juniperSun
I enjoyed reading this to my son. Sterling writes of a year in his life, after his mother's death, and the lenient household his father allowed: He is handbuilding a canvas & wood canoe in the living room. On a trip to the Brule River region, his father leaves him alone at camp for several days,
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and apparently frequently Sterling is left to his own devices at home, which he handles responsibly. He finds an isolated baby raccoon and raises it, lavishing it with love. His episode of taking it to show-and-tell at school is very reminiscent of the tale he told in The Wolfling in which the school bully gets nipped after surreptitiously hurting the animal. While the main text concerns the raccoon, he also writes of being cared for by farm relatives during the Influenza Epidemic and a later visit to help them with tobacco stripping. Sterling has to earn his spending money by selling newspapers and trapping muskrats--until his love for Rascal makes him realize he can no longer harm wild creatures. As Rascal matures, his habit of raiding neighboring garden patches makes him persona non grata and Sterling has to take measures to keep him safe from retaliatory shooting.
Excellent role model values shown throughout the book, altho most youth in current times don't experience the same country environment.
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