So these are two odd little books.
Last week, I read both Skunk and Badger and Egg Marks the Spot by Amy Timberlake, which tell the story of Badger, who is living in his aunt’s brownstone, studying rocks and minerals. His life is pretty set in stone (ha, rock pun), and he’s content with his routine. But everything changes when a roommate, Skunk, arrives. Skunk is exuberant and disrupts Badger’s peace. At first, Badger doesn’t want a roommate, much less one who dismantles his room of boxes to convert it into a bedroom, who leaves piles of dishes in the kitchen (even if the food is delicious), who keeps asking question after question about Badger’s rock work. However, as they get to know each other, Badger finds that perhaps Skunk isn’t so bad after all—though he’s less sure about Skunk’s chicken friends. The second book tackles the two roommates going on a trip to find a specific type of rock, and encountering unexpected discoveries on the way.
So like I mentioned, these are kind of odd. The plots of both books did not remotely go the directions I expected, and certain events felt pretty random. A couple times I found myself wondering what on earth was going on and why. However, it was still entertaining, I just think I wasn’t sure what to expect and so was a little thrown off. Kids will probably eat it up, though, since a lot of it is silly and dramatic.
Where I think these books really shine, though, is in the relationship between the titular characters. I adore the friendship between Badger and Skunk! It’s so sweet to see how they learn to live with each other despite their differing dispositions and boundaries. Something about them reminds me of the bond between Frog and Toad from Arnold Lobel’s books, and that’s so wholesome and delightful. The scenes that feature only these two were my favorites.
In the end, the Skunk and Badger books are quirky, with slightly strange plots, but with very cute characters at the core. I love the atmosphere of the universe they live in, and their friendship is just lovely. I didn’t fully love the plotlines, or the scenes with the chickens, but I still had a decent time reading these. Also, the illustrations by Jon Klassen are beautiful, and add a wonderful visual element to these engaging stories. And these books exist in that nice middle ground of reading levels, perfect for those young readers who are moving past early chapter books but who aren’t quite ready for some of the longer middle grade books. I think kids who liked Frog and Toad would really like these!