Monday 21 March 2016

The Skunk

The Skunk by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Patrick McDonnell (The Five Mile Press)
HB RRP $19.95
ISBN 978-1-76006-782-3
Reviewed by Jacque Duffy

On first impressions this book reminded me of Dr Seuss, I couldn’t wait to pick it up and have a read. I was not disappointed, although, it is far removed from anything Dr Seuss and more like an Alfred Hitchcock story for children.

The illustrations and the writing go hand in hand, as a whole they work so seamlessly that it appears the writer and illustrator collaborated [I don’t know if they did or didn’t]. It is a quirky story of a man who discovers a skunk on his doorstep. The skunk appears to be following him. There is an increasingly frantic chase through the city, tension builds, the man has closure, but there is a twist… The artwork follows this outline by starting off with a very retro limited pallet of red, white, and black. After the climax, the primary colours of yellow and blue are added, imitating joy, then, with a thought provoking twist the illustrations revert back to the former limited pallet. It is very cleverly thought through.

This is a fabulous read-out-loud book either by an independent reader or an adult who likes a bit of fun. There are a few words that a young child might need explained which adds to the experience of the shared reading.

The author Mac Barnett is a New York Times bestselling author of books for children including Extra Yarn which won the 2013 Caldecott Honour.

Patrick McDonnell the illustrator has over twenty books in print, including four New York Times bestsellers and the Caldecott Honour winning Me…Jane. He has a comic strip Mutts which appears in over 700 newspapers around the world.

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