Title: Skunk and Badger: Egg Marks the Spot
Author: Amy Timberlake
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Published: 28th September 2021
Synopsis: Roommates Skunk and Badger head out on a rock-finding expedition that becomes much more dangerous than they ever expected in this second book of the odd-couple series that has been compared to Wallace and Gromit and Winnie-the-Pooh. Newbery Honor author Amy Timberlake has created an instant classic with illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen (I Want My Hat Back, Pax).
Buried in the heart of every animal is a secret treasure. For rock scientist Badger, it’s the Spider Eye Agate he found as a cub, stolen years ago by his crafty cousin, Fisher. For Badger’s roommate, Skunk, the treasure is Sundays with the New Yak Times Book Review. When an old acquaintance, Mr. G. Hedgehog, announces his plan to come for the Book Review as soon as it thumps on the doorstep, Skunk decides an adventure will solve Badger’s problems as well as his own. Surprisingly, Badger agrees. Together they set off on an agate-finding expedition at Badger’s favourite spot on Endless Lake. But all is not as it seems at Campsite #5. Fisher appears unexpectedly. Then a chicken arrives who seems intent on staying. Something is up! Indeed! Secrets, betrayals, lies … and a luminous, late-Jurassic prize.
In a volume that includes full-colour plates and additional black-and-white illustrations by Caldecott medalist Jon Klassen, Newbery Honor author Amy Timberlake takes readers on a second adventure in the new series reviewers have called an instant classic, with comparisons to Frog and Toad, Winnie-the-Pooh, and The Wind in the Willows.
A few months ago, I reviewed a book, and then later, wrote a quiz on it. This time, I’ve written a quiz on this book, and then had it sent to me for review – so I had to read it again, but without thinking about what the questions were – I was reading purely to read and enjoy the book and story. Skunk and Badger are friends and housemates – they live together in North Twist. Badger is a scientist, and determined to find his Spider Eye Agate, stolen by cousin Fisher. Yet all is thrown into chaos when Skunk finds out that his nemesis, Mr G Hedgehog is coming to North Twist to continue their supposed arrangement involving the New Yak Times Book Review. So, Skunk convinces Badger to head off on a rock-finding expedition that no scientist can say no to. Yet their expedition to Endless Lake is not without upheaval – first Fisher arrives to cause chaos, and then a chook arrives! Agatha is determined to tell Skunk something – a secret that will change everything – and will reveal quite the Jurassic prize!
Skunk and Badger are the oddest of friends – they don’t seem to have anything in common, yet, like the Odd Couple, like many friend pairings in children’s literature and like so many detective pairings on television, they just seem to work – their differences are perhaps what makes them work as friends. Together, they complement each other – quiet, thoughtful, and deliberate Badger, and erratic, loud and fun Skunk. But Badger’s deep obsession with the Spider Eye Agate could threaten their friendship – and even as Skunk chatters and plots with Agatha the Chook about a deep secret amongst chickens, the secrets will come out, and the two friends will have to work together to stop Fisher doing something drastic and awful – and uncover a deeply hidden secret in the process, and discover the meaning of friendship and unity.
The power in this story comes from the friendship between Skunk and Badger – their loyalty to each other, and Skunk’s determination that he doesn’t want to lie to Badger, but at the same time, he doesn’t want to disappoint Agatha. In being able to admit to their flaws, Skunk and Badger are well-rounded characters who are constantly learning, much like the young children and readers this series is aimed at, and show that it is okay to be wrong sometimes, because there is always a way to fix things and find a new way of doing things, even with the people you may not like at first.
Skunk and Badger have echoes of Winnie the Pooh and The Wind in the Willows – the wise friend and the excitable one. The friends who see each other through thick and thin as they explore their world and find ways to get along with people, or deal with ongoing conflicts like Badger has with his cousin, Fisher. Stories like this show that differences are what make us interesting as people and friends, and allow us to explore who we are in safe and fun way through literature, as well as building on knowledge and reading skills. This is a fun book, that explores the joy of science and discovery for readers aged seven and over.