Skunk and Badger


Amy Timberlake




Date Reviewed:

March 20, 2022

on Klassen is the author/illustrator of the classic children's picture books We Found a Hat, This is Not My Hat and I Want My Hat Back. I looked in the library catalogue to see what else Klassen had done, and found Skunk and Badger, written by Amy Timberlake with illustrations by Klassen. I thought it might be a graphic novel or another picture book, but Skunk and Badger is a children's text novel, 122 pages long, with illustrations by Klassen. It is a fast read, but fun. There are four color illustrations and plus black and white drawings. The best picture is perhaps the cover, where Skunk stands at the front door, introducing himself as Badger's new roommate. Badger has a stunned look on his face, he thought the creature knocking at the door was a traveling sales-skunk.

Badger lives alone in a brownstone house that his Aunt Lulu allows him to occupy rent-free. This arrangement allows Badger to focus on his Important Rock Work - studying stones, writing scholarly articles for geology journals, making field trips to find new interesting rocks. Badger has a few unread letters from Aunt Lulu that he has not yet bothered to open, when a persistent knocking begins at the front door. Badger ignores the knocking, but it doesn't not cease. Finally he opens the door to discover Skunk - his new roommate. It seems that Aunt Lulu has promised Skunk that he too can stay rent-free in the brownstone. Badger is stunned. Perhaps he ought to look at those unread letters...

Skunk is quite the disrupter - he cooks fine meals (Badger subsisted on cereal and milk). Badger had offered Skunk a closet to sleep in, but Skunk finds a room filled with open and empty boxes. When all the boxes are broken down, Skunk discovers an unused bedroom, quite nice, that Skunk dubs his Moon Room - a nice place to read a book before bedtime. Naturally, all of this activity and commotion is hard for Badger to endure; he has his routine and he needs to focus on his Important Rock Work.

There is some humor in the book. When Skunk is cutting vegetables for dinner, a potato shoots out from beneath the knife blade and lands in the corner. They dub this "The Rocket Potato", but neither Skunk nor Badger pick it up, they are each waiting for the other to fetch the potato, and so the potato continues to reside in the corner. Skunk and Badger are disappointed to learn that a shoehorn is not an instrument that will bleat a musical note every time you take a step. And there are the flocks of chickens who make a Quantum Leap.

I am sure it will surprise no one that in the end Skunk and Badger become great roommates.

Klassen's artwork is nice. The color images employ a very limited palette, seemingly nothing more than sepia tones with a little bit of orange and yellow highlights. The black and white art is created with a scratchy pen. All of the best images feature a light source and cast shadows. Notice the sun at Skunk's back on the cover image.

According to the dustjacket, Amy Timberlake won an Edgar Award. I did not know they awarded the Edgar for children's books, for her work One Came Home. I will have to check that book out.