Exceptionally sweet.

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SKUNK AND BADGER

From the Skunk and Badger series , Vol. 1

Badger’s definitely not ready for his new roommate, Skunk.

The sole resident of his aunt Lula’s brownstone, Badger devotes his days to a life befitting for a rock scientist. Naturally, the semirecluse spends his day in his rock room, where he can do all of his Important Rock Work. Then someone’s knocking politely at the door one day. It’s Badger’s new roommate, Skunk, along with his red suitcase. (If Badger had read those letters from Aunt Lula, he would’ve known….) Skunk swiftly makes himself at home, disrupting Badger’s Important Rock Work in the process. Sure, Badger spends some sweet moments with Skunk, including a discussion of Shakespeare’s Henry V. Skunk even apologizes for the abrupt changes to the living arrangements. Then the chickens arrive, all hens and no roosters (though Skunk does invite Larry), infuriating Badger. When a stoat-shaped menace appears at the door, Badger reacts with little consideration for Skunk or his flock of guests, and Skunk leaves the brownstone after harsh words from Badger. Badger’s left alone and unsure. “It would never work out! But Skunk certainly has his moments,” he ponders. A splendid entry in the odd-couple genre, Timberlake’s spunky series opener posits that compassion and inner transformation can strengthen the unlikeliest of friendships. It’s an approach that gestures toward broader societal conversations (consider the word that prompts Skunk to leave: “vermin”) without losing focus on the story’s delightful central duo. The use of fragmented sentences, repetition, and onomatopoeia makes for a fun read. Klassen’s muted, wistful artwork, meanwhile, invokes sweeping sentiments during key events.

Exceptionally sweet. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64375-005-7

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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A deceptively simple, tender tale in which respect, resilience, and hope triumph.

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WISHTREE

Generations of human and animal families grow and change, seen from the point of view of the red oak Wishing Tree that shelters them all.

Most trees are introverts at heart. So says Red, who is over 200 years old and should know. Not to mention that they have complicated relationships with humans. But this tree also has perspective on its animal friends and people who live within its purview—not just witnessing, but ultimately telling the tales of young people coming to this country alone or with family. An Irish woman named Maeve is the first, and a young 10-year-old Muslim girl named Samar is the most recent. Red becomes the repository for generations of wishes; this includes both observing Samar’s longing wish and sporting the hurtful word that another young person carves into their bark as a protest to Samar’s family’s presence. (Red is monoecious, they explain, with both male and female flowers.) Newbery medalist Applegate succeeds at interweaving an immigrant story with an animated natural world and having it all make sense. As Red observes, animals compete for resources just as humans do, and nature is not always pretty or fair or kind. This swiftly moving yet contemplative read is great for early middle grade, reluctant or tentative readers, or precocious younger students.

A deceptively simple, tender tale in which respect, resilience, and hope triumph. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-04322-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

CHARLOTTE'S WEB

A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

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