Sterling North’s Rascal
Rascal: A Memoir of a Better Era, by Sterling North
Ages 6 & up
This is a beautiful story, compelling and moving, one that makes you ache in just the right way. I remember my mother reading this book to me as a child, so I recently read it to my younger children. I was able to read it to them using the copy my mother read to me, which was a copy my father received and read when he was a boy (in the photos)
The story chronicles a year in North’s boyhood (1918-19) in Wisconsin when he raises a wild raccoon as his pet. As I read the book I found myself saying that it made me long for a simpler, better time. Only later did I discover the subtitle which I had overlooked, “A Memoir of a Better Era.” That aptly describes the story in which boys can roam free in the woods without worry, father and son can camp along a roadside, and generally no busybodies hyperventilate about some adventure and mishap.
We thoroughly enjoyed the story with the antics of Rascal, the adventures of North and his friends and the great outdoors. It made me long for more time outdoors myself. There were also poignant moments when the specter of the War (World War I) loomed and Sterling hoped for the safe return of his older brother. I loved the initiative, spunk, and hard work seen in North, the main character. He persevered wit building his own canoe, found odd jobs to pay for supplies, raised his own garden, cared for his various pets (raccoon, skunks, crow, dog and others), built an enclosure for Rascal and many other things. Even though his mother has died and his father is sometimes away, there is a strong family connection as well.
We heartily commend Rascal to you!