Badger lives a quiet and peaceful life in his Aunt Lula’s brownstone house. Life is routine, simple and safe - a breakfast of cold cereal and milk is followed by Important Rock Work. When Skunk arrives on Badger’s doorstep - if only Badger had read Aunt Lula’s letter he would have known all about his unexpected arrival - he turns Badger’s world upside-down. Skunk is energetic, noisy, loves cooking tasty breakfasts and hangs out with chickens, none of which is good news for Badger. And when an incident with a stoat pushes Badger over the edge he decides that Skunk must go…
Skunk and Badger brought back so many fond memories for me. As a child, I would read the Frog & Toad series by Arnold Lobel over and over again. I simply adored the characters and the stories about two friends getting on with their lives and learning valuable life lessons. And just like those wonderful stories, Amy Timberlake delivers another utterly delightful and charming read about two animals who are destined to be friends, probably.
Beautifully presented with rock-themed endpapers and with a mix of gorgeous colour and black and white illustrations by Jon Klassen - who is one of my absolute favourite illustrators - it is an adorable read centred around the friendship of two animals who are the complete opposite. Hard-working and stuck in his ways Badger has no need for anyone is his life but when the charismatic Skunk arrives he slowly learns that perhaps having someone else around would not be the worst thing.
Embedded into the story is lots of gentle humour as things don’t go smoothly, Skunk cooks but leaves Badger to do the dishes, there’s a rocket potato in the corner, Skunk interferes with Badger’s work and he invites chickens round for popcorn and story-time. It’s easy to see why the nervous Badger, who plays his ukulele to calm himself, struggles to adapt to the new living arrangement.
However, sometimes change is a good thing. Reclusive Badger has become so stuck in his ways that he has forgotten the joys of having someone else around and when he finally realises this it is all too late as he has sent Skunk packing and desperately heads off in search for his new friend. But will he be able to find Skunk, and if he does, will Skunk want to hear his apology?
Scratch (and sniff) beneath the furry surface of the story and there are life lessons on living with others, compromising and accepting. There are also plenty of thoughtful little moments, while reading Shakespeare Skunk starts a conversation with Badger on what it means to be gentle and kind and as Badger searches to get his friend back he receives some wonderful advice on how to apologise sincerely. Timberlake also touches on the wider issues within society of homelessness and judging others, “Not everybody wants a Skunk.”
I really hope this is just the start of the series and that there will be plenty more opportunities to indulge myself in the tales of Skunk and Badger as these two oddball friends are well-worth spending time with. A wonderful book for confident readers to enjoy independently and one for parents to share with younger children.
A future classic.
Recommended for 7+.