This darling little book was on the shelf in my library. I was instantly smitten. Raccoons, secret places, bright colors, woods... yes please!
(By the way, just for full disclosure, you are going to see a lot of flowers in my upcoming pictures. I have very little imagination about photo styling, so I make up for it by putting flowers in the picture. Flowers make everything better, right?!?)
Look at all those little animals in yellow rain slickers! I adore yellow rain slickers. And personified woodland animals.
It is a rainy day in Sara Raccoon's world. She is quietly sewing a dress for her sock monkey, Mimi, while her little brother and sister are wrecking havoc on the bottom bunk.
This. So real. I remember sharing bunk beds with older siblings who never thought my shenanigans were as funny as I did. As well as having two younger brothers who intruded into everything my ten year old self thought was important and sacred.
Not content with wrecking havoc below, the twins have to go to the top bunk to get Sara's attention.
Their presence is not appreciated.
But aren't these pictures adorable? All those primary colors!
Mother Raccoon's solution is to kick them all outside now that it has stopped raining. Sara asks to stay inside, but.... no go.
"Not now dear," said her mother. "i'd like to be alone for a little while. I need some peace and quiet by myself this afternoon. Why don't you play with Bobby Otter?"
I feel this mama's pain. And I like her ability to kick her kids out when they are bothering her. But poor Sara Raccoon who just wanted to sew quietly.
Alright, lets all look at the adorable store for a bit. Candy in jars, Lilies-of-the-valley in bunches on the windowsill, Robins perched on canned acorns or something, candycanes AND Easter baskets at the same time....
Sara can't find ole Bobby anywhere, so she goes out to look for him. But... whoopsie! Rain again.
She runs to the first dry spot she could find, a hollow tree trunk.
While she watched the rain, she decided it made a lovely little secret place for her. A place where NO ONE else could bother her. Her very, very own!
As a kid with seven siblings, I delight right along with her. A place of your own is so important.
"The next week, Sara was very busy. She gathered clover, honeysuckle, and wild strawberries to trade at Mr. Badger's for scraps of calico."
How many sweet little things can be crammed into one sentence?! Can you imagine armfuls of honeysuckle, clover, and wild strawberries?
When everything is ready and just so, she heads back to her secret place to put it all together. If she was anything like I was, she probably has such grandiose schemes for this secret place that it had taken on the proportions of a royal palace. It was freedom, independence, and solitude. And it was hers.
Except...there is someone sticking their big fat nose into her secret place!
The outrage! The shattering of the dream!
Sara Raccoon does not handle the situation well. Even though the intruder is Bobby Otter, her best friend.
Words are exchanged.
Sara's crushing disappointment comes out at Bobby and blames him for the ruination of all her plans.
He scuttles off with a few choice words of his own.
Despite the calico she worked hard for and the setting up of her secret place, it is all ruined by the bad feeling she has about how she treated Bobby.
And it starts to rain again. Life is hard.
I so, so, so feel her. I remember fights with friends about similarly irrational disappointments and the bitter feeling you are left with that colors everything you do after until you make things right again. The arguing within yourself about how it wasn't entirely your fault, they shouldn't have.....!! but knowing all the while that it really is all your fault.
After all the rain that has been happening, there is a teensy flood and Sara can't get home from the secret place. Who rescues her? Bobby of course.
As good friends do, they sort it out with a good cry and talk.
Bobby consoles--"Your place will be dry again soon. Meanwhile, we can go to my secret place."
Whaaaat? Bobby Otter has his own secret place. Oh bliss! They can share secret places! Friends are the very best.
Bobby's secret place is pretty nifty.
And so was Sara's when it dried out again.
I want to go visit their secret places. I sort of want a secret place of my own....
This would do.
(Have to say I would be a little bit nervous about the strength of that rope for the first time or two...)
Maybe a land based one is better!
Somehow grown up secret places are so much more complex than a hollow tree...
But aren't they lovely?! Here is a whole page of these delightful spots!
I'll take them all.