I don’t read a lot of middle-grade books, but when I was that age, I devoured them. So, it was really nice to dive into one of these and be reminded how magical and glorious the stories can seem. “Skunk and Badger” has been described as a cross between “Wallace and Gromit” and “Wind in the Willows” (with a dash of “Winnie the Pooh” thrown in), and I love this characterization.
The story, by Amy Timberlake, is told from the point of view of a Badger (named Badger obviously) who does Very Important Rock Work (as he calls his studies of geology). He lives simply and quietly in a brownstone that his Aunt Lula lets him reside in. One day, Skunk arrives saying that Aunt Lula has offered him a home in the brownstone as a roommate to Badger. Badger is completely dismayed and horrified that his space will be taken over by another animal (especially one with some rather loud and annoying habits). The two form a rather tenuous relationship with highs (when Skunk makes Badger delicious breakfasts in the morning) and lows (when Skunk invites all of the neighborhood chickens over for storytime). The two animals must learn to compromise and come together in their living space so that they can both live in harmony.
Timberlake’s writing is joyful and has a wonderful sense of humor to it. It’s one of those children books that has plenty to offer adults who might be reading along with their kids. Also, the illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen are a great addition to the text – both fun and entertaining.
There are so many heartwarming moments in this book that had me smiling (and one part that had me tearful). But the overall message of acceptance and putting yourself in someone else’s shoes (or paws?) is one that all children should learn. I’ll definitely be recommending this and will happily await the next adventure following these two animals!
Free ARC provided by Netgalley and Algonquin Young Readers in exchange for an honest review*