Rereading: RACCOONS ARE THE BRIGHTEST PEOPLE by Sterling North

Sterling North’s “Rascal,” about the pet raccoon he had as a boy, was a favorite growing up, and when this non-fiction book by him came out in 1966, I read it right away and later found my own copy. I was startled to find out that North was living near Morristown, not far from my own home in Pluckemin, NJ, and I even found his property on a topographical map I had of the area from the endpaper map in the book. I wished I could meet him, but never figured out a way to do that before he died in 1974. The opening section of the book is about North’s home and pets and wild animals there, including a family of raccoons, of course. Much of the later book is stories from others North met or corresponded with about their own wild animal pets and encounters. The book gradually becomes a not-subtle tract against hunting and promoting peace between wild animals and man, which North’s own experiences reinforce, as do others in the book. Even a man named Carl Marty, who had his own wild animal-friendly vacation park in northern Wisconsin, and who invited wild animals to enter his home and inn at will, found that wild animals almost never wish to harm humans and their pets, and are more than willing to be friends. The stories are well told, there are lots of photographs, and even though I wasn’t interested in hunting myself, after this book I knew I never would be. Recommended.

Raccoons are the Brightest People by Sterling North

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