Raccoons are the Brightest People


Raccoons are the Brightest People

Submitter: In weeding our adult, non-fiction shelves, I came across this awkward, disconcerting title. The picture isn’t pleasant either, but it’s the word “people” that caused a lack of circulation.

Holly:  This might be the best book ever about raccoons, but I have to agree with the submitter that it is an odd title.  Maybe raccoons are very bright animals, but they’re not people.  Also, the guy on the cover (is that Sterling North?) has a very large head.


  1. I read one of his book as a kid — probably Rascal — and I loved it! But yeah, that cover is creepy.

  2. I love animals (probably more than people) but always try to remember that they are animals. They have limitations and despite all the wonderful things that they do they’re not human. A scientist may say that my dog responds to me because I open the Alpo can and dispense the chew toys. That may be true, but when he greets me when I’ve been gone or crawls into my lap for no apparent reason I think that he is showing love. The feeling is mutual.

  3. I would weed this for age only. But, I see nothing wrong with the title! I don’t think the submitter should assume the word “people” is responsible for a lack of circulation. I don’t understand Holly’s problem with the title either. We all know raccoons are not really people, but it is just a book title. He probably talks about their little “hands” too. Should we criticize him for not being clear that these are paws, not hands? When you take animal print classes they point out raccoons leave hand prints. It wouldn’t stop me from checking out a newer book with the same title. Our dog sits up and we call it “people” even though he is really a dog, and we know that. I think you both took the title too literally!

  4. Oh come on, that’s a great book and a charming title. He’s not saying raccoons are literally people. Don’t you ever refer to your dog or cat or iguana or whatever as if they were little people, even though you know they’re not? And isn’t picking on Mr. North’s appearance a little juvenile?

  5. Aren’t raccoons actually nasty creatures that rip people’s garbage cans open and carry rabies? The people I know who live in areas with raccoons hate them.

  6. The incidence of rabies in raccoons is so high where I live that any raccoons captured by animal control are automatically put to sleep. This 45-year-old title is not likely to have the latest information.

  7. I say this as the daughter of a scientist – any scientist who thinks my dog just responds because I feed her has their head up their butt! My Minnie The Moocher is more human than many humans I know. Heck, the little diva even INSISTS on wearing clothing. (But she only likes dresses, not t-shirts, I’ve tried.) She won’t leave the house without clothing and the one time I tried to get her to sleep naked because of the heat she kept waking me up and would not let me sleep until I dressed her. More than that, she picked me at the shelter. She used to be a breeder in a puppy mill.

    So I have no problem with this title. Raccoon are probably better people than many actual humans.

  8. This is actually a collection of raccoon stories. A real classic and he explains why he calls them people.

  9. I *think* I saw this title buried deep in the animal-by-type shelves of my big city’s central branch–and yep, it’s in the catalog! (My wife was looking for books on frogs, and I killed a bit of time trying to find the most obscure animal covered by its own book I could find–“Meerkat Manor” doesn’t count, but maybe sea otters, badgers, or ocelots might… one of the other raccoon books also covered coatimundis….. Now consider that this is the Central Library of the biggest library system in the state, so any copy of this might be the only one in the state. This is THE one library I can count on to hold on to worthwhile research material from decades ago because it’s good, not because it’s flashy, new, the current best-seller. (Yes, even older books are held in “red dot storage” and are pulled to individual order.)

  10. I don’t get what’s bad about it either. Lack of circulation might make it weed-worthy but I know I wouldn’t assume the title was meant to be taken literally.

  11. I actually have a first edition of Rascal and Sterling is from Wisconsin. Rascal is actually quite a good book about a boy’s coming of age by raising a raccoon for a year and was phenomenally popular in the late 60s. There’s even a Disney movie based on it! So, no, I wouldn’t weed this book because of its age.

  12. ANY mammal can carry rabies, not just raccoons!

    FWIW, raccoons are very bright, but also very destructive. The same can be said of rats, dogs, wild pigs and PEOPLE.

  13. I am late to the game and nobody cares but I grew up in Edgerton, Wi where most of Sterling North’s books took place. Yay?

  14. It’s still in my library. I am not surprised. Some of the non-fiction hasn’t been seen in years….

  15. This is the first book I’ve seen on this blog about which I disagree is worthy of discarding. At least for the stated reasons. Of course racoons aren’t really people. But they are hardly the only animal that get anthropomorphized. Just ask, I’d guess, 9 out 10 pet owners. And is someone having a big head a crime? Conan O’Brien and Ted Kennedy (RIP) might disagree.

  16. My cousins owned a raccoon. Raccoons are VERY intelligent but also very hard to keep. He eventually found a girl raccoon and was never seen again.

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