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May I Come In?

One stormy night, Raccoon shivers and quivers in his home, deciding finally that "[b]eing alone on a night like tonight is scary." Grabbing his umbrella, he heads to his friends' houses--"swish," "plish"--asking for shelter from the storm. One after another, these old friends deny him comfort. "What bad luck," each says as they explain how Raccoon is too big for their dens. When he knocks on Rabbit's door, however, he is welcomed with open paws, even though her burrow is leaping with her kits, "hop[ping] and bop[ping] to the raindrops." When three soggy friends show up at the door a little while later, will they be invited in, too? Of course! "There's always room for all our friends."

Whether in Scotland (Always Room for One More) or Ukraine (The Mitten), the idea of making room for just one more friend is well loved in folk tales. In May I Come In?, Marsha Diane Arnold (Waiting for Snow; Lost. Found.) embraces the classic storyline but leaves out the exploding house (or mitten) at the end. Jennie Poh's (Herbie's Big Adventure) woodland cast of characters also includes a possum, a quail and a woodchuck, all of whom are filled with personality, and covered in feathers and fur that readers will want to touch.

The lesson in this--as in every version of this delightful folktale--is gentle but clear: don't be stingy with your love. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor