Skunk on a String

Thao Lam. Owlkids (PGW, dist.), $16.95 (40p) ISBN 978-1-77147-131-2
Canadian artist Lam debuts with the wordless story of an accidental journey. When readers first see the skunk of the title, it’s already drifting into the sky, one hind leg tangled in the string of a red balloon. The first few scenes are tense as the skunk floats past a woman hanging wash on the line; she attempts to save the animal (using a pair of heart-dotted boxer shorts) but misses by inches. After a refreshing sandwich supplied by a high-rise steelworker, the skunk begins to enjoy its tour, which carries it through a zoo, across the ocean, over a desert, and to the top of a Ferris wheel, where it comes to rest. Only briefly, though; having realized how exciting balloon travel can be, the skunk quickly finds a way to launch itself again. Lam stacks crisp shapes created from lightly patterned and textured papers on cool white pages (the images are a mix of full-page scenes and sequential panels), with subtle shadows discernible between the layers. The skunk’s changing emotions are easy to read, and the possibilities of balloon flight are thoroughly and playfully explored. Ages 3–7. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/21/2015
Release date: 03/01/2016
Genre: Children's
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