cover image What's Black and White and Came to Visit?

What's Black and White and Came to Visit?

Evan Levine. Orchard Books (NY), $14.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-531-06852-6

This cumulative comic tale delivers more than just a punch line for readers with a wry sense of humor. The buffoonery begins when Lily and her parents discover a skunk stuck in the rain gutter outside their home. Workers at the fire department, called upon to remove the animal, ask ``if the skunk started a fire''; even without blazes, they rush to the scene with their biggest truck, ``a Dalmatian, and a salami sandwich because one of them might be hungry.'' While Lily's father stands about reciting skunk facts from an encyclopedia, the befuddled firefighters can agree on only one thing: eating salami sandwiches. Responding to the ``911PU,'' the police wait for the skunk to commit a crime; they are followed by the mayor, who appoints ``skunk officials,'' and a yodeling neighbor, who tries to woo the critter with ``The Skunk Waltz.'' Lewin's pen-and-ink illustrations energetically amplify the vaudevillian atmosphere, while Levine cleverly permits facts about the docile skunk to outweigh popular misconceptions. Ages 4-7. (Sept.)