Books·Canadian

Skunk and Badger

A middle-grade novel by Amy Timberlake with pictures by Jon Klassen.

Amy Timberlake, illustrated by Jon Klassen

Wallace and Gromit meets Winnie-the-Pooh in a fresh take on a classic odd-couple friendship, from Newbery Honor author Amy Timberlake and Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen.
 
No one wants a skunk.
 
They are unwelcome on front stoops. They should not linger in Important Rock Rooms. Skunks should never, ever be allowed to move in. But Skunk is Badger's new roommate, and there is nothing Badger can do about it.
 
When Skunk plows into Badger's life, everything Badger knows is upended. Tails are flipped. The wrong animal is sprayed. And why-oh-why are there so many chickens?
 
"Nooooooooooooooooooooo!"
 
Newbery Honor author Amy Timberlake spins the first tale in a series about two opposites who need to be friends.
 
New York Times bestselling author/illustrator and Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen completes the book with his signature lushly textured art. This beautifully bound edition contains both full-colour plates and numerous black-and-white illustrations.
 
Skunk and Badger is a book you'll want to read, reread, and read out loud . . . again and again. (From HarperCollins)

Amy Timberlake is the author of children's books. Her 2013 children's book, One Came Home, was awarded the Newbery Honor and the Edgar Award.

Jon Klassen is a award-winning Toronto author and illustrator now based in Los Angeles. 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.

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

From the book

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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

Interview with Jon Klassen

In a special treat, Jon Klassen -- one of the most acclaimed new talents in children's literature -- joins guest host and illustrator Kevin Sylvester to discuss storytelling, stealing hats and when it's okay to scare kids. 22:06

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