Books

Read an excerpt and see the cover of the Jon Klassen-illustrated middle-grade novel, Skunk and Badger

Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake, illustrated by Jon Klassen will be available on Sept. 15, 2020.

Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake, illustrated by Jon Klassen will be available on Sept. 15, 2020

Skunk and Badger is a 2020 middle-grade novel by Amy Timberlake with pictures by Canadian writer-illustrator Jon Klassen. (Fred Chartrand, HarperCollins)

Jon Klassen is a Canadian author and illustrator now based in Los Angeles. 

In fall 2020, middle-grade novel Skunk and Badger by American author Amy Timberlake, featuring illustrations by Klassen, will be released. 

Skunk and Badger, for ages 8 to 12, is the first book in a middle-grade book series about Skunk and Badger, two animals who find themselves living together as roommates. 

When Skunk enters Badger's life, everything Badger knows is upended. Skunk and Badger starts off the ongoing adventures of two opposites who need to be friends.

Skunk and Badger will be available on Sept. 15, 2020.
 
Klassen, originally from Toronto, is one of the most sought after illustrators in North America. His books include the Hat series — I Want My Hat Back, This is Not My Hat and We Found a Hat.

In 2018, it was announced that Klassen was selected to become a Member of the Order of Canada for "his transformative contributions to children's literature."

His long list of prestigious honours includes the American Caldecott Medal and CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal (both for This Is Not My Hat, which he wrote and illustrated), as well as the Governor General's Literary Award for children's literature — illustration for Cats' Night Out written by Caroline Stutson. 

He has also frequently collaborated with American author Mac Barnett on books like The Wolf, the Duck, and the MouseTriangle, Square and Sam and Dave Dig a Hole.

"It is a collaborative process but the work is mostly done by the time it gets to me. My job becomes setting a mood and tone, rather than giving them information about the story," Klassen told CBC Books about his work on Skunk and Badger.

"When I first read Skunk and Badger, [I thought it was] was great. All good writers are doing something bigger than just the story but this feels so much like its own world. It's one of those escapist-type stories where you go into this little town with these little guys for a while. 

"It's a lot more fun, in some respects, in that I get to be less specific about action or staging. Amy is always a great writer and she's taken care of all that. So I get to be a little bit more atmospheric than I normally would be just because that freedom is there."

You can see illustrations and read an excerpt from Skunk and Badger below.


The first time Badger saw Skunk, he thought, puny, and shut the front door.

Badger didn't normally shut the door on animals that knocked. But there was too much slick in this one's stripe, too much puff in his tail. Also, there'd been that grin, and the way he'd stuck out his paw as if he had been looking forward to meeting Badger for a long, long time.

Badger knew what to make of that. He shut the door before the fellow got any ideas. "Not. Buying. Anything," he said through the keyhole.

When the knocking continued, Badger added, "Ever."

An interior page from Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake, illustrated by Jon Klassen ©2020.  (HarperCollins Canada)

Then he drew the bolt.

And the double bolt.

And latched the chain.

Quartzite! Badger thought briskly as he padded back into his rock room.

Aunt Lula's brownstone row house had not come with a rock room. Badger had made improvements. He had dragged out the sofa and cushy chairs. He'd boxed the books and board games. He'd closed up the fireplace.

The sound came from the front door. Badger stopped. It was that fellow again.

Then he'd pushed in his rock table and his stool and aligned his work light. Over the fireplace, he had hung his rock hammers and saws. His rock tumbler fit on the window seat.

The bookshelves had been a good place for boxes of rocks and minerals. He'd shelved them alphabetically with the most delicate specimens wrapped in tissue paper. In the fireplace, Badger had piled geodes in a pyramid. (Artistic!) Finally, Badger had shoved open the pocket doors, clearing a path into the kitchen for a paw-full of dry cereal, and declared his rock room complete.

Now Badger pulled his stool up to his rock table. He adjusted his work light. He picked up a magnifying glass with one paw and the quartzite with the other.

Rap-rap. Rap-rap-rap.

The sound came from the front door. Badger stopped. It was that fellow again.

Badger put down the magnifying glass and the quartzite, and opened his calendar. No appointments. No fix-it animals. The Yard Sheep grazed the lawn on Saturday. In fact, today's calendar square contained an X. X meant "IMPORTANT ROCK WORK."

Of course, this being Aunt Lula's brownstone, Aunt Lula could stop by anytime. But she would not knock. Aunt Lula had a key.

Badger remembered how Aunt Lula had helped him out: Three years ago, he had been a rock scientist without steady rock work or a good den to live in. The situation worsened until one day, Aunt Lula offered her brownstone as a place for Badger to live.

"Untilyougetbackonyourfeet," said Aunt Lula, who was a pine marten and said everything quickly.

Badger frowned. Surely the fellow wouldn't keep on knocking?

Aunt Lula offered the brownstone for free. "Youarefamily! Mynephew!"

Scientific funding! A long-term residency! A grant of time and space! Badger had thought.

Anyway, Aunt Lula almost never visited. She wrote letters. An image of the mail pail sitting on the desk in his bedroom flashed into Badger's mind. It contained two, if not three, unopened letters from Aunt Lula.

Must read those, Badger thought.

Rap-rap-rap. Rap.

Badger frowned. Surely the fellow wouldn't keep on knocking?

Rap. Rap. Rap.

An interior page from Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake, illustrated by Jon Klassen ©2020.  (HarperCollins Canada)

Badger decided he would ignore the rapping. The fellow would be forced to go away. He rotated the quartzite, held the magnifying glass over a promising crystal, and leaned.

"Badger?" came a voice through the keyhole.

Badger froze.

"Badger? Are you in there?" came the voice again.

Badger dropped the quartzite. The quartzite shattered.

"Sludge and slurry!"

"Badger?" Rap-rap-rap.

Badger stared at the shards of quartzite. He looked in the direction of the front door. Then he set down his magnifying glass, stood up, and walked to the rock tumbler. He flipped the switch to On. The water in the tumbler sloshed. The grit in the tumbler ground. The rocks chip-chip-chipped and the motor whined as the tumbler turned ErrrrrRRRRR over . . . and ErrrrrRRRRR over . . . and ErrrrrRRRRR over again.

Badger sighed. His shoulders settled. He swept up his shattered quartzite and selected another rock. He sat down at his rock table, picked up the magnifying glass, and held it over the rock.

Concentrate, he told himself when he sensed movement in the windows behind him.

From Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake, illustrated by Jon Klassen ©2020. Published by HarperCollins Canada.

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