cover image Skunk and Badger (Skunk and Badger #1)

Skunk and Badger (Skunk and Badger #1)

Amy Timberlake, illus. by Jon Klassen. Algonquin, $18.95 (136p) ISBN 978-1-64375-005-7

When Skunk barges into Badger’s quiet brownstone, readers sympathize with the scholarly, solitary Badger, who spends his days doing “Important Rock Work.” Skunk toys idly with Badger’s treasured tools, and he seems bent on staying—but why? A letter from Badger’s Aunt Luna, the building’s owner, answers the question: “What would you think of Skunk moving into the brownstone?” Faced with an unwanted housemate, Badger must learn to live with—and learn from—Skunk’s warm, chaotic presence, especially his willingness to extend hospitality to the neighborhood’s chickens. Occasional art by Caldecott Medalist Klassen offers Wind in the Willows wistfulness. Gleeful, onomatopoeic prose by Newbery Honoree Timberlake, meanwhile, keeps readers engaged through laugh-out-loud repetition as she tackles sensitive issues such as elitism, exclusivity, and even science cited for nefarious purposes: “You’re a skunk. I am a badger. We are not family.” Frog and Toad–like in nuance and tenor, this is no old-fashioned story in which Skunk charms Badger and thaws his frozen heart. Badger is in a privileged position, and his refusal to share what he has and to protect Skunk and his guests has a deep and timely significance—one rendered with an expertly light touch. Ages 8–12. Agent (for Timberlake and Klassen): Steven Malk, Writers House. (Sept.)