STARRED REVIEW
April 14, 2015

Can’t shake this shadow

By Mac Barnett & Patrick McDonnell
Review by

One day, a man in a dapper tuxedo discovers that a skunk is following him. There seems to be no shaking the stinky stalker—but when at last the man succeeds, his thoughts drift to The Skunk and whatever new mischief he’s making.

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One day, a man in a dapper tuxedo discovers that a skunk is following him. There seems to be no shaking the stinky stalker—but when at last the man succeeds, his thoughts drift to The Skunk and whatever new mischief he’s making.

Caldecott Honor winners Mac Barnett and Patrick McDonnell take readers on a tale that yo-yos between pursuit and capture. McDonnell neatly divides the story by color: Man and skunk coexist in a universe that’s black and white and red all over (with a wash of peach here and there), but there’s a sequence in the middle of the story that takes on a brighter, Wonder Bread-y palette to suit the changing mood. The drawings here echo the style of McDonnell’s MUTTS comic strip—take the stripe out of the skunk’s tail, and he could be one of the squirrels who bonk passersby with nuts.

The simple story and clean layout include lots for young readers to identify (a cafe, trucks, a Ferris wheel, an opera house). The ending is funny and might provide a gentle opening for talk about “stranger danger” and when it’s OK or not to follow someone, or about the wild animals who live alongside us in urban places. The Skunk is a cool romp that’s wild at heart.

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The Skunk

The Skunk

By Mac Barnett & Patrick McDonnell
Roaring Brook
ISBN 9781596439665

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