what a mysteriously funny and unique read! mac barnett‘s (2015) the skunk [roaring brook press], which is illustrated by patrick mcdonnell, is a strange tale about a man who is followed by a skunk. honestly, it was one of those books that i finished and thought to myself hmm … what was that about? did i get it? let me read it again to make sure. and i think that is one of the best qualities a children’s book can have!
i am really into color and enjoyed mcdonnell’s drawings. the text starts with a red-black-tan color scheme, transitions to full color once the narrator moves, and then goes back to the red-black-tan scheme at the end of the text. i think analyzing color is another way to “read” this text.
another aspect i loved about this book was its absolute mysteriousness. even though the inside front cover’s summary reads “a man is followed by a skunk all day until the tables turn,” i’m not convinced the story is so simple. barnett creates a story about which readers can have multiple interpretations (certain readers might focus on the fact that the narrator’s life is more colorful after his interaction with the skunk, but there could be more ways of analyzing the ending.) barnett definitely plays around with traditional expectations for children’s books plots, and i think this is one of the text’s greatest strengths. the skunk, perplexing, humorous, and quirky, leaves readers thinking.
the narrator’s voice is distinct. one mark of a good children’s story (or any story for that matter) is if it feels like the words are reading themselves to us. and barnett’s words do just this!
tell me what you think of the skunk below!