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by Joe Hayes & illustrated by Antonio Castro L.

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-933693-81-1
Publisher: Cinco Puntos

The duo that created The Gum-Chewing Rattler (2006) concocts a Garrison Keillor–type anecdote sized to fit a picture book. The key character is not a skunk, as the title suggests, but a pair of very smelly sneakers. The bespectacled boy narrator refuses to stop wearing them, even after a mishap with cow pies, until the night he and his pal camp out. When a noise in the night awakens them, they find a skunk ardently nuzzling a sneaker. They watch as a large skunk appears, jealously sprays the sneaker and leaves with "my shoes' new girlfriend" tagging behind him. The innate humor is realistically illustrated with detailed full bleeds but is washed out by the voice of the first-person narrator, which attempts a childlike ingenuousness but achieves instead an unfortunately patronizing tone in print: "I stepped in the cow pie. That's not a pie cows like to eat. It's something that comes out the other end of the cow!" Without the storyteller's oral inflections, too many laugh lines fall flat. What kind of books do skunks read? Best "smellers"—but unfortunately this isn’t one. (Picture book. 5-8)