It’s been a long time coming, but Book 2 in the Living Wild Side by Side series is now available for sale!
Raccoon Retreat picks up not long after Raccoon Rescue left off. Roxy, Rufus, and Renae are still living with their Mama, but autumn’s cool weather is creeping in, and they’re almost big enough to strike out on their own.
When the human neighborhood they encountered in the first book starts to expand into their home range, the three lose their den — and their Mama. Trying to find her involves pushing far outside the bounds of anything familiar, and soon, survival becomes about more than they ever thought possible. Can they get by with help from some new friends?
Why it’s especially appropriate now
I blogged about the concept behind Raccoon Retreat before a pandemic came along and changed a lot of what we humans thought we knew about work, school, and life in general. But I started writing the series with empathy for the misunderstood in mind.
Witnessing not just the extent of civil unrest, but also the extent of cognitive dissonance around Black Lives Matter is troubling. If All Lives truly mattered, cruelty to animals would be treated with the same seriousness as cruelty to humans; cruelty of any kind would be something we all actively sought to curtail in ourselves as well as others; and we would honor the image and likeness of the Creator in us all.
Instead, as the saying goes, “hurt people hurt people” — and animals, too. What we can’t ignore, we actively seek to be rid of: that which is inconvenient to us, which breaks through our safe bubbles of self-narrative. We destroy entire communities when it suits who’s in charge, when we’ve decided that a particular location is more desirable to a park or a highway or a new neighborhood than it is to those who already live there.
As I wrote in that other blog, “baby raccoon dystopia” offers some anchor points that would enable kids to learn lessons for themselves as well as about animals. A lot of us feel as uncertain and lost as the young raccoon characters, and what we’ve found is — social distancing notwithstanding — the need to rely on one another in ways we might not have imagined at the end of last year. Ultimately, I hope the book offers some insight into resilience when your entire world turns upside down.
Just like Raccoon Rescue, Raccoon Retreat is designed with a dyslexia-friendly font and comes with activities in the back of the book. Some are meant to help with Common Core lesson planning, while others, like the maze, are just for fun!
I’ve also created two lesson plans for use with this series. “Matching Pictures with Words” and “Masked Scavengers” are available as free downloads. Both are designed for Common Core Grades 2-3, and “Masked Scavengers” additionally complies with South Carolina READY Science standards for those grades.
Seriously, a long time coming
On a more personal note, when I published Raccoon Rescue in late 2017, I already had both Books 2 and 3 in mind and expected to be able to push the sequel out inside of a year. Within that year though, I would encounter illness, burnout, and a job layoff… none of which are exactly conducive to creativity.
As a writer I’m back out on my own now, which comes with its own set of challenges. But I’ve started to think about Book 3, and if the stars align, I’ll be able to publish that a lot sooner than 18 months from now. Stay tuned!