Francine Poulet Meets the Ghost Raccoon

I’ve read all my Deckawoo Drive books (until the newest arrives) and today I’m sharing another. Francine Poulet Meets the Ghost Raccoon is actually the second in the Deckawoo Drive series, but I read them out of order.

Francine Poulet is a highly decorated animal control officer who has no fear, she even beat a bear in a staring contest once! But in this story, she may have met her match. The raccoon in question shimmers in the moonlight and screams like a banshee. He screams “ffffrrrraaaaannnnnyyyyy”. Understandably, this has Francine a bit shaken. She attempts to catch him only to fall off of the roof, break an arm, break a leg and mess up her neck.

While recovering in the hospital, Francine believes her father’s ghost visits her. He does not want her to give up.

Franny, you are the genuine article. You are solid. You are certain. You are like a refrigerator. You hum.

But, like many people, Francine lets her doubts defeat her. She gives up her career as the best animal control officer the county has ever seen. Francine begins to forget who she is.

Eventually, Francine runs into Frank and Stella, two children from Deckawoo Drive. Frank remembers meeting Francine when she came to capture Mercy, and he remembers the newspaper article about her. Frank insists that she is still a great animal control officer, even as Francine tries to dismiss him.

Frank somehow inspires Francine to face her fears and come for the ghost raccoon, who is now living on the roof of Eugenia and Baby Lincoln’s house. Francine faces her fears, realizes that the raccoon isn’t screaming her name and deftly catches him. The Deckawoo friends finish the night with hot, buttered toast at the Watson’s house, raccoon and all.

DiCamillo gives us a wonderful post-story coda, where we discover that Francine has gone back to her job as an animal control officer and she has an understudy, Frank.

You’re solid. You’re certain. You hum, kid. You hum.

I really liked how real Francine’s problem was. While we’re not out fighting ghost raccoons, we do face setbacks in our lives, both professional and personal. Often we let the resulting doubts defeat us, and make us doubt who we fundamentally are. Francine needs a bit of a push to get past it, but she faces her fears and wins. That’s a fantastic message for kids, and I’m so glad DiCamillo wrote this story.

By the way, Poulet means chicken in French. I kind of feel like Van Dusen gave her a very chicken-ish face.

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