An interesting glimpse into a literary world I know next to nothing about (prior to your review, I knew nothing about it!). In my ignorance, I wonder why the characters are anthropomorphized animals--if they act just like people, and are human in every respect except for appearance, why not draw them as people? I imagine that's one of those questions you don't ask fans of the genre if you want to avoid the "who crowned you king of stupid?" look. And I understand. It'd be like asking "if The Doctor is an alien why does he seem to be British?" To which I would reply: "Because. Now shut up and watch the show!" ;-)
Evening Colin! (Or afternoon for you, maybe?) I covered this, but only clumsily: "seeing animals act like racist dirtbags to other animals somehow reinforces how horrible this is when done by humans" To clarify, I think seeing horrible things done by 'cute' animals has the power to really reinforce how terrible an action can be. This works especially well for racism, where you're completely removing human races from the equation... it's shocking to see animals killing each other over the colour of their fur. On an artist side, I think using animal characters makes exaggeration more easy. You can exaggerate emotions with teeth, eyes, ears, tails; exaggerate personalities (a lazy, round-bellied gorilla, a strict and proper German Shepherd police office,, a weasel reporter with an odor problem) , and gain access to a whole world of different unique character designs by using different animals of every type. Artistically it has a similar affect to serious stories done in a simplified cartoon-y style (or, say, important real-world issues tackled by YA fantasy and sci-fi): it gives it a unique look and it's a different way of getting your readers to process things in a different, and often more enjoyable, way.