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Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Skunk, written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell. Roaring Brook Press, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2015. $20.50 ages 4 and up

"The skunk did not answer.
The skunk was a skunk.

I bought the skunk an apple.
I gave him a saucer of milk.
I offered him my pocket watch.

The skunk did not want any
of these things.

This was ridiculous."

Upon opening this lively story, you might just ask yourself about the skunk. Why is he waiting on the doorstep for the man to come outside? There is no indication that he rang the bell. Present he is, and the tuxedoed man is quite surprised by the turn of affairs. He certainly doesn't want to upset the skunk. He is stealthy in his departure. It takes no time to realize that the skunk is following him. This is one determined skunk.

Down the street, and always aware of the man's efforts to evade, the skunk follows him to a coffee shop, around many corners. The man tries his best to distract the skunk. Nothing works. Into a departing cab, and to the opera where the man is sure he has lost his pursuer. Not at all true! The skunk finds a most pleasant spot to watch the performance. The man leaves quickly with the skunk right behind him - to a Ferris wheel, to an alley, to the sewers, always determined to lose the skunk.

Upon exiting the sewers, he finds himself in a new area, promptly buys a house and starts all over again. There is no skunk in sight. Can it last? It appears that he has solved his dilemma - until he begins to wonder what the skunk is doing!

Mac Burnett chooses his words carefully and writes a story that moves quickly, and with great panache. I can't wait to share it! Patrick McDonnell matches the humor with exceptional illustrations that hearken back to earlier times. He matches the man's tuxedo and his red bowtie to the skunk's coat and his bright red nose. The first part of the book is done with little color - black, white and gray with splashes of red. Settling in a new house allows for a brand new color palette - primary colors and a circus-like atmosphere. Full of expression and action, kids will enjoy every spread.


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