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Author: Barnett, Mac
A man is followed by a skunk all day until the tables turn.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: LG
Reading Level: 2.70
Points: .5 Quiz: 174058
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: K-2
Reading Level: 1.30
Points: 1.0 Quiz: 66092
Kirkus Reviews (03/15/15)
School Library Journal (+) (03/01/15)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (+) (07/15)
The Hornbook (+) (00/07/15)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 03/01/2015 K-Gr 3—A man is stalked by a silent skunk in this charmingly neurotic offering. Leaving his home one day, a bespectacled, tuxedo-clad gentleman discovers a small skunk sitting on his doorstep. As the man makes his way about town, the creature remains close on his heels ("…after a mile I realized I was being followed.") He speeds up, he slows down, he takes many wild turns, but to no avail. Still the skunk remains. Barnett's text is delivered in short, clipped sentences that convey the man's annoyance and increasing paranoia. McDonnell's distinctive pen-and-ink illustrations (the little skunk bears a striking resemblance to a couple of familiar mutts) harken back to classic comic strip humor, with expressive body language, dynamic action lines, and thoughtful compositions, creating tension and drama. The majority of the book uses a limited palette of black, peach, touches of red (notably for the skunk's oversized nose and the man's posh bow-tie), and smart use of white space. The man finally outruns his striped admirer, purchasing a new house in a different part of the city. He throws himself a fancy party with dancing and dessert. But he finds himself wondering about that skunk ("What was he doing? Was he looking for me?") Roles reverse and the pursued becomes the pursuer, as the man now slinks around corners and behind trees, surreptitiously following the skunk—who, on the last page, looks anxiously over his shoulder at the man. Why did the skunk follow the man initially? Is this a tale of regret and missed opportunities, a lesson on the dangers of letting potential friends slip away? Of not knowing what you've got 'til it's gone? Barnett and McDonnell offer no explanations, but invite readers to ponder the possibilities. Here's hoping this talented duo pair up for many more picture book collaborations. VERDICT Clever visual motifs, sly storytelling, and tight pacing make this a picture book that will be enjoyed by children and their grown-ups.—Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal - Copyright 2015 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 05/01/2015 How do you shake a skunk from your tail? Such is one man’s quandary after finding a skunk on his doorstep one evening. Next thing he knows, it’s peering around corners, following him in a taxi, and giving flat-out chase through a carnival. Though told with the seriousness of a thriller, the red-nosed skunk’s pursuit of the man—similarly clad in a black and white tux with red bow tie—will tickle readers with its escalating absurdity. Eventually, the man moves to a new, skunk-free neighborhood, and the book’s noir color palette (gray, black, white, splashes of red) blossoms with cheerful primaries until the man is overtaken by the need to know where the skunk is. So back he goes into the noirish night, only this time the tables have turned. Caldecott honorees Barnett and McDonnell (Extra Yarn, 2012, and Me . . . Jane, 2011, respectively) combine their considerable talents in this dark comedy. With more silliness than suspense, the story features antics that even sensitive children will love, and older readers will appreciate the role reversal at the book’s end. - Copyright 2015 Booklist.
Bulletin for the Center... - 07/01/2015 Our protagonist, dapper in tails and a radiant red bow tie, is heading out for the evening when he finds a skunk following him. The narrator attempts to elude the skunk, but when he takes a taxi, “the skunk took the next cab,” and when he makes it to the opera house, the skunk turns up and sits on a lady’s head. Finally Mr. Opera-goer flees through the sewers to a different part of the city, where he builds a new existence. However, his fear of the skunk’s reappearance in his life leads him to track the animal down—and follow him. The pokerfaced approach to absurdity (“The skunk did not answer. The skunk was a skunk”) recalls practitioners of the style from Thurber to Yorinks, and the short sentences, restrained vocabulary, and occasional repetition add to the hilarity as well as easing the way for readers. For audiences willing to sit through a longer text and ready to grasp the irony of the ending, though, this could also make a daffy yet stylish readaloud with surprising performance possibilities. There’s a genial mid-century air to design and art by Caldecott Honor winner McDonnell: cartoonishly drawn black and white figures float against airy matte backgrounds, with occasional touches of digital color (the skunk has a Rudolphian red nose to match the protagonist’s red tie) suggesting two-color illustrations but sneaking a few extra hues in. Kids looking for something a little drier and more sophisticated to liven up their early reading will be ready to follow along with skunk and man. Note the witty endpapers, whose streamlined design salutes the skunk in front (black and white stripes) and the man in back (black and white stripes with red bow tie). DS - Copyright 2015 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.