A skunk discovers a way to make friends with a human family in this debut picture book by TV writer and producer Chambers, with charming illustrations by veteran animator Spille.
This book’s titular skunk is purple, not black, and his inability to camouflage himself makes him frightened of everything. When he wanders into a family’s backyard and discovers free food for the taking (in a dog’s dish), he’s delighted to have found a place of safety. When the dog confronts him, however, the skunk sprays; the dog goes away for a wash, and the skunk moves under the house, content to stay in a nice, safe location. The family is terrified to come outside, however, and their neighbors are angry. Soon, the family calls animal control, but the family’s two children soon see how scared the little skunk is. Hoping to comfort him, they put him on a special pillow and pet him—and the skunk’s stink turns into sweet perfume as he feels what it is to be loved. This silly story about a skunk, with its moral about treating even the prickliest people nicely, should entertain young readers. However, parents may be concerned that it encourages children to treat wild animals as pets. It worked for Smelvis and the human family that adopted him, but real-life children approaching a wild skunk certainly wouldn’t receive sweet perfume. Also, Smelvis keeps his stinky scent for people he doesn’t like, who apparently include countercultural, tattooed skateboarders. Spille’s cartoon illustrations are cute and child friendly, but they show a distinct lack of diversity among the human cast; only one character (the skateboarder) isn’t blond. That said, Chambers’ text, which varies in length from page to page, is accessible for young readers, and the text design, in which the word “skunk” appears in purple typeface, is cleverly done.
An often entertaining children’s story about a skunk that changes his scent.