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The Skunk



by
Mac Barnett
illustrated by
Patrick McDonnell

Edition
Hardcover edition
Publisher
Macmillan
Imprint
Roaring Brook
ISBN
9781596439665

Awards and Honors
Capitol Choices 2016
The New York Times 2015 Best Illustrated Children’s Books
Bulletin Blue Ribbon 2015, Picture Books
ALA Notable Books for Children 2016, Younger Readers
2015 Cybils Awards Nomination, Fiction Picture Books
Children’s Book Committee Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books of 2016, Humor
POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
None
$10.80   $9.00
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QTY
Out of stock

JLG Category

Easy Reading Plus

A man is pursued by a skunk everywhere he goes. In a cab, at the opera, and even on a Ferris wheel—he can’t shake the skunk! What does it want from him? Full-color illustrations.

POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
None

Details

Format

Print

Page Count

40

Trim Size

7 1/2" x 10"

Dewey

E

AR

2.7: points 0.5

Lexile

AD550L

Genre

Fiction

Scholastic Reading Counts

1

JLG Release

Aug 2015

Book Genres


Topics

Skunks. Human-animal relationships. Humorous stories. Animals.

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Cover Art

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Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books*, The Horn Book Magazine*, The Horn Book Guide^, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly*, School Library Journal

School Library Journal

[STARRED REVIEW]
A man is stalked by a silent skunk in this charmingly neurotic offering. Leaving his home one day, a bespectacled, tuxedo-clad gentleman discovers a small skunk sitting on his doorstep. As the man makes his way about town, the creature remains close on his heels (“ . . . after a mile I realized I was being followed.”) He speeds up, he slows down, he takes many wild turns, but to no avail. Still the skunk remains. Barnett’s text is delivered in short, clipped sentences that convey the man’s annoyance and increasing paranoia. McDonnell’s distinctive pen-and-ink illustrations (the little skunk bears a striking resemblance to a couple of familiar mutts) harken back to classic comic strip humor, with expressive body language, dynamic action lines, and thoughtful compositions creating tension and drama. The majority of the book uses a limited palette of black, peach, touches of red (notably for the skunk’s oversized nose and the man’s posh bow-tie), and smart use of white space. The man finally outruns his striped admirer, purchasing a new house in a different part of the city. He throws himself a fancy party with dancing and dessert. But he finds himself wondering about that skunk (“What was he doing? Was he looking for me?”) Roles reverse and the pursued becomes the pursuer, as the man now slinks around corners and behind trees, surreptitiously following the skunk—who, on the last page, looks anxiously over his shoulder at the man. Why did the skunk follow the man initially? Is this a tale of regret and missed opportunities, a lesson on the dangers of letting potential friends slip away? Of not knowing what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone? Barnett and McDonnell offer no explanations, but invite readers to ponder the possibilities. Here’s hoping this talented duo pair up for many more picture book collaborations. VERDICT Clever visual motifs, sly storytelling, and tight pacing make this a picture book that will be enjoyed by both children and their grown-ups.—Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal

Horn Book

[STARRED REVIEW]
A skunk shows up on the narrator’s doorstep and begins to tail him. Try as he might, our narrator just can’t seem to shake the skunk—“When I sped up, the skunk sped up. When I slowed, the skunk slowed”—despite dodging in and out of an opera house, a graveyard, and a carnival. Ultimately, however, our narrator does lose his unwelcome shadow, crawling down a manhole in an alley and establishing a new life in a new house in a new part of the city (the heretofore low-toned palette now bursting with blue and yellow). It’s not long, though, before he realizes everything’s not what it’s cracked up to be, and he leaves his own party to go off in search of the skunk, vowing to keep an eye on him to “make sure he does not follow me again.” McDonnell’s graceful and simple cartoonlike illustrations mitigate the notes of paranoia and obsession in Barnett’s deadpan text, particularly in their rendering of the posture, gestures, and expressions of the main characters. Barnett has had the good fortune to collaborate with illustrators—Rex, Santat, Klassen—who share his oftentimes offbeat sense of humor; his pairing with McDonnell seems as natural as any of them. jonathan hunt

Praise & Reviews

School Library Journal

[STARRED REVIEW]
A man is stalked by a silent skunk in this charmingly neurotic offering. Leaving his home one day, a bespectacled, tuxedo-clad gentleman discovers a small skunk sitting on his doorstep. As the man makes his way about town, the creature remains close on his heels (“ . . . after a mile I realized I was being followed.”) He speeds up, he slows down, he takes many wild turns, but to no avail. Still the skunk remains. Barnett’s text is delivered in short, clipped sentences that convey the man’s annoyance and increasing paranoia. McDonnell’s distinctive pen-and-ink illustrations (the little skunk bears a striking resemblance to a couple of familiar mutts) harken back to classic comic strip humor, with expressive body language, dynamic action lines, and thoughtful compositions creating tension and drama. The majority of the book uses a limited palette of black, peach, touches of red (notably for the skunk’s oversized nose and the man’s posh bow-tie), and smart use of white space. The man finally outruns his striped admirer, purchasing a new house in a different part of the city. He throws himself a fancy party with dancing and dessert. But he finds himself wondering about that skunk (“What was he doing? Was he looking for me?”) Roles reverse and the pursued becomes the pursuer, as the man now slinks around corners and behind trees, surreptitiously following the skunk—who, on the last page, looks anxiously over his shoulder at the man. Why did the skunk follow the man initially? Is this a tale of regret and missed opportunities, a lesson on the dangers of letting potential friends slip away? Of not knowing what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone? Barnett and McDonnell offer no explanations, but invite readers to ponder the possibilities. Here’s hoping this talented duo pair up for many more picture book collaborations. VERDICT Clever visual motifs, sly storytelling, and tight pacing make this a picture book that will be enjoyed by both children and their grown-ups.—Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal

Horn Book

[STARRED REVIEW]
A skunk shows up on the narrator’s doorstep and begins to tail him. Try as he might, our narrator just can’t seem to shake the skunk—“When I sped up, the skunk sped up. When I slowed, the skunk slowed”—despite dodging in and out of an opera house, a graveyard, and a carnival. Ultimately, however, our narrator does lose his unwelcome shadow, crawling down a manhole in an alley and establishing a new life in a new house in a new part of the city (the heretofore low-toned palette now bursting with blue and yellow). It’s not long, though, before he realizes everything’s not what it’s cracked up to be, and he leaves his own party to go off in search of the skunk, vowing to keep an eye on him to “make sure he does not follow me again.” McDonnell’s graceful and simple cartoonlike illustrations mitigate the notes of paranoia and obsession in Barnett’s deadpan text, particularly in their rendering of the posture, gestures, and expressions of the main characters. Barnett has had the good fortune to collaborate with illustrators—Rex, Santat, Klassen—who share his oftentimes offbeat sense of humor; his pairing with McDonnell seems as natural as any of them. jonathan hunt

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Interests
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