Skunk and Badger (Skunk and Badger 1)


By Amy Timberlake

Illustrated by Jon Klassen

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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around September 15, 2020. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Learn how Skunk and Badger first became roommates before embarking on their latest adventure, Egg Marks the Spot, now on sale!

Best Book of 2020: People * Kirkus Reviews Booklist  * School Library Journal * Publishers Weekly * Shelf Awareness for Readers * New York Public Library * Chicago Public Library * Evanston Public Library

Wallace and Gromit meets Winnie-the-Pooh in a fresh take on a classic odd-couple friendship, from Newbery Honor author Amy Timberlake with full-color and black-and-white illustrations throughout by Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen.
No one wants a skunk.
They are unwelcome on front stoops. They should not linger in Important Rock Rooms. Skunks should never, ever be allowed to move in. But Skunk is Badger’s new roommate, and there is nothing Badger can do about it.
When Skunk plows into Badger’s life, everything Badger knows is upended. Tails are flipped. The wrong animal is sprayed. And why-oh-why are there so many chickens?
Newbery Honor author Amy Timberlake spins the first tale in a series about two opposites who need to be friends.
New York Times bestselling author/illustrator and Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen completes the book with his signature lushly textured art. This beautifully bound edition contains both full-color plates and numerous black-and-white illustrations.
Skunk and Badger is a book you’ll want to read, reread, and read out loud . . . again and again.


Important Rock Work

Chapter One

The First Time Badger Saw Skunk, He Thought, Puny, and shut the front door.

Badger didn’t normally shut the door on animals that knocked. But there was too much slick in this one’s stripe, too much puff in his tail. Also, there’d been that grin, and the way he’d stuck out his paw as if he had been looking forward to meeting Badger for a long, long time.

Badger knew what to make of that. He shut the door before the fellow got any ideas. “Not. Buying. Anything,” he said through the keyhole.

When the knocking continued, Badger added, “Ever.”

Then he drew the bolt.

And the double bolt.

And latched the chain.

Quartzite! Badger thought briskly as he padded back into his rock room.

Aunt Lula’s brownstone row house had not come with a rock room. Badger had made improvements. He had dragged out the sofa and cushy chairs. He’d boxed the books and board games. He’d closed up the fireplace. Then he’d pushed in his rock table and his stool and aligned his work light. Over the fireplace, he had hung his rock hammers and saws. His rock tumbler fit on the window seat. The bookshelves had been a good place for boxes of rocks and minerals. He’d shelved them alphabetically with the most delicate specimens wrapped in tissue paper. In the fireplace, Badger had piled geodes in a pyramid. (Artistic!) Finally, Badger had shoved open the pocket doors, clearing a path into the kitchen for a paw-full of dry cereal, and declared his rock room complete.

Now Badger pulled his stool up to his rock table. He adjusted his work light. He picked up a magnifying glass with one paw and the quartzite with the other.

Rap-rap. Rap-rap-rap.

The sound came from the front door. Badger stopped. It was that fellow again.

Badger put down the magnifying glass and the quartzite, and opened his calendar. No appointments. No fix-it animals. The Yard Sheep grazed the lawn on Saturday. In fact, today’s calendar square contained an X. X meant “IMPORTANT ROCK WORK.”

Of course, this being Aunt Lula’s brownstone, Aunt Lula could stop by anytime. But she would not knock. Aunt Lula had a key.

Badger remembered how Aunt Lula had helped him out: Three years ago, he had been a rock scientist without steady rock work or a good den to live in. The situation worsened until one day, Aunt Lula offered her brownstone as a place for Badger to live.

“Untilyougetbackonyourfeet,” said Aunt Lula, who was a pine marten and said everything quickly.

Aunt Lula offered the brownstone for free. “Youarefamily! Mynephew!”

Scientific funding! A long-term residency! A grant of time and space! Badger had thought.

Anyway, Aunt Lula almost never visited. She wrote letters. An image of the mail pail sitting on the desk in his bedroom flashed into Badger’s mind. It contained two, if not three, unopened letters from Aunt Lula.

Must read those, Badger thought.

Rap-rap-rap. Rap.

Badger frowned. Surely the fellow wouldn’t keep on knocking?

Rap. Rap. Rap.

Badger decided he would ignore the rapping. The fellow would be forced to go away. He rotated the quartzite, held the magnifying glass over a promising crystal, and leaned.

“Badger?” came a voice through the keyhole.

Badger froze.

“Badger? Are you in there?” came the voice again.

Badger dropped the quartzite. The quartzite shattered.

“Sludge and slurry!”

“Badger?” Rap-rap-rap.

Badger stared at the shards of quartzite. He looked in the direction of the front door. Then he set down his magnifying glass, stood up, and walked to the rock tumbler. He flipped the switch to On. The water in the tumbler sloshed. The grit in the tumbler ground. The rocks chip-chip-chipped and the motor whined as the tumbler turned ErrrrrRRRRR over . . . and ErrrrrRRRRR over . . . and ErrrrrRRRRR over again.

Badger sighed. His shoulders settled. He swept up his shattered quartzite and selected another rock. He sat down at his rock table, picked up the magnifying glass, and held it over the rock.

Concentrate, he told himself when he sensed movement in the windows behind him.

Badger concentrated for one (one thousand), two (one thousand), three (one thousand) seconds and then thought, How does he know my name? The nameplate on the letter box read, Lula P. Marten.

A thought followed: What if he is Someone Important?

Badger raced through the front hallway, threw back the bolts, unlatched the chain, and opened the door.

No one was there.

“Hello? Anybody?” called Badger.

A bird sang. A breeze twisted past. The air smelled of honey.

He stepped out onto the stoop. The letter box and flowerpot were empty. He did not find anything tacked to the back of the door. Badger frowned. Someone Important would have left a note.

On the sidewalk below, a gray-and-white-speckled chicken stopped. It eyed Badger—first with the left eye, then with the right.

A chicken? In North Twist? Badger never saw chickens.

“Bock bock,” the chicken said. It stood with its neck upstretched, eyeing him right-left, left-right.

Badger had the oddest feeling he was supposed to say something. To a chicken?

“Bock?” said the chicken.

“Shoo! Shoo!” When the chicken didn’t move, Badger waved his paws. “Go on now—shoo!”

“Bock!” The chicken fluttered off, past a small red suitcase tied shut with twine. The suitcase sat at the bottom of Badger’s stoop.

Badger moaned. Quick—inside!

But that was when the fellow came around the corner, picked up the suitcase, and dashed up the steps. Before Badger knew it, his paw was being given a vigorous shake.

“Badger, I am Skunk! I have heard much about you. It is so good to finally meet!” Skunk’s grin was so large, and his paw-shaking so energetic, that Badger’s insides warmed.

“Oh,” said Badger, blushing.

And in that moment, Skunk squeezed past Badger and entered the brownstone.

Like that! thought Badger.

As Badger shut the door, he knew there’d be no stopping Skunk’s game plan. The red suitcase would be popped open to reveal something guaranteed to change everything. Next would come the patter, the pitch, the easy payment plan. “A real game changer!” he’d be told. The talking would go on and on.

He found Skunk in his rock room. (My rock room!) Skunk peered. He poked the pile of geodes in the fireplace.

“Great place. Nice kitchen.” Skunk nodded appreciatively. He twirled one of Badger’s rock hammers in his right paw.

Badger took the hammer. “Rock hammers are not toys.”

Skunk shook his head. “Definitely not! It would be good for mashing potatoes, though.”

Badger put the hammer away with emphasis, and noticed the red suitcase tied up with twine. The suitcase sat in the center of the room. Badger looked at it suggestively.

Skunk followed Badger’s gaze to the red suitcase, looked back at Badger, and gave him a wide smile. “I am here!”

“You are,” said Badger.

There was a pause.

Followed by another pause.

Skunk pointed at the rock tumbler. “I switched it to Off. That machine is loud. It sounds like it is shaking rocks. Ha!”

“It is a rock tumbler,” said Badger. “It polishes rocks.”

“Oh,” said Skunk. “May I see a polished rock?”


“Oh.” Skunk blinked, sighed, and sat down.

On my rock stool! thought Badger. Badger stared at Skunk sitting on his rock stool.

Skunk stared back at him, and then set his chin in a paw, and began to twist ever so slightly, back and forth, on the rock stool.

“Ahem,” said Badger.

Skunk glanced up.

Badger looked pointedly at the suitcase.

Skunk also looked at the suitcase, frowned at Badger, and said, “This is a good stool. It spins. You must like spinning. I also like to spin. Watch!” Skunk gripped the sides of the stool and kicked off.

“You must stop now!” said Badger.

Skunk stopped with a skid.

And said nothing!

Badger began to pace. “Look, there are not ten steps that will improve my life. I already manage my time. I do not spend money on raffles or lottery tickets. I have no holes in my socks. I do not believe in X-ray glasses or fungus powders. Fake diamond rings fail to impress. I do not need a blender, and I certainly do not need a shoehorn. Unless you are here with money to fund a rock scientist doing Important Rock Work—which, I might add, I do relentlessly, tirelessly, and with more grit than a wad of gum—there is nothing you can offer me. Not interested. No thank you.” Badger stopped in front of Skunk. “So may we get on with our lives now?” He moved in the direction of the door.

Skunk sat up. “Horns for your shoes? Shoehorns sound necessary.”

Badger laughed. “Har! That’s true! Good one! Shoehorns!”

Then Badger realized he’d been diverted. He crossed his arms. “No more funny business. Do you have rocks in that suitcase? If you have rocks, I’m interested.”

Skunk gave him a look. “Why would I have rocks in my suitcase? Everyone knows rocks are heavy.” Skunk took in the room. “You do like rocks. There are a lot of rocks in this room.”

Badger gasped in exasperation. “So what’s in the suitcase?”

Skunk blinked. “My storybook. A chicken whistle. Pajamas.” Then he grinned. “I get it! Is there a secret code word? Aunt Lula forgot to tell me the secret code word.”

Badger swayed on his feet. “Aunt Lula?”

“Yes, Aunt Lula said you would give me a room and a key.” Skunk hopped off the rock stool. “I am your new roommate, Skunk!” Then Skunk tilted his head. “Did you think I was a door-to-door sales skunk? That is funny. Ha!”

“Har-har!” Badger laughed politely, while inwardly everything lurched. A roommate? No! Not possible! Aunt Lula would have told him.

Badger remembered—again—the two (maybe three?) unread letters from Aunt Lula sitting in his mail pail.

But then a piece of information, something he’d read, came to mind. He chuck-chucked at Skunk and shook his head. “Aunt Lula? Aunt? You’re a skunk. I am a badger. We are not family. That’s scientifically proven!”

Skunk laughed. “I know! But Aunt Lula insisted I call her ‘Aunt.’ I thought it best to agree. Have you ever won an argument with Aunt Lula? Pine martens speak so fast.” Skunk added with a shrug, “Aunt Lula did know my mother.”

Badger blurted, “Don’t you have your own home?”

Skunk flinched and took a step back.

“Well?” Badger heard himself say.


  • A 2021 Capitol Choices Noteworthy Books for Children and Teens Selection

    “Wordy fun, with laugh-out-loud dialogue…this book defies age grouping. Anyone who has shared a living space — with siblings, classmates or grown adults — can relate to this witty and whimsical tale… Lovers of rocks and chickens, and nerds of all stripes, will crack a smile…Scratchy yet sophisticated ink drawings by the Caldecott Medal winner Jon Klassen add warmth to the already cozy text…they give this handsomely designed book the look and feel of a classic.”
    —The New York Times Book Review

    “Curmudgeonly Badger is not amused when Skunk moves in. Endearing comedy ensues.”

    “Gloriously complemented by Jon Klassen's meticulous illustrations, Skunk and Badger has the feel of a bygone era while telling a completely modern (and delightful) story of how hard change can be, and how worth it change is.”

    “A splendid entry in the odd-couple genre, Timberlake’s spunky series opener posits that compassion and inner transformation can strengthen the unlikeliest of friendships. It’s an approach that gestures toward broader societal conversations (consider the word that prompts Skunk to leave: “vermin”) without losing focus on the story’s delightful central duo. The use of fragmented sentences, repetition, and onomatopoeia makes for a fun read. Klassen’s muted, wistful artwork, meanwhile, invokes sweeping sentiments during key events. Exceptionally sweet.”
    Kirkus Reviews, starred review

    “Newbery Honor Book author Timberlake doesn’t underestimate her readers, unhesitatingly incorporating advanced vocabulary and probing Badger’s inner turmoil… Klassen contributes a winning mix of vintage-feeling color paintings and black-and-white drawings, which highlight both the story’s sweet and laugh-out-loud moments, as well as its understated quirk. It’s a treasure of a book that promises future misadventures from your new favorite odd couple.” 
    Booklist, starred review

    “Art by Caldecott Medalist Klassen offers Wind in the Willows wistfulness. Gleeful, onomatopoeic prose by Newbery Honoree Timberlake, meanwhile, keeps readers engaged through laugh-out-loud repetition as she tackles sensitive issues such as elitism, exclusivity, and even science cited for nefarious purposes. Frog and Toad–like in nuance and tenor, this is no old-fashioned story in which Skunk charms Badger and thaws his frozen heart. Badger is in a privileged position, and his refusal to share what he has and to protect Skunk and his guests has a deep and timely significance—one rendered with an expertly light touch.” 
    Publishers Weekly, starred review

    “Clear themes of tolerance, friendship, and understanding drive the story in a way that children will respond to. The subtle nod to unemployment and potential homelessness that begins the story provides opportunities to expand learning and compassion. ­Overall, a sweet unlikely friendship story that would be a welcome addition to any elementary or public library.” 
    School Library Journal

    “Amy Timberlake writes with whimsical humor reminiscent of A.A. Milne, Arnold Lobel and Kenneth Grahame, which is reinforced by Jon Klassen's splendid illustrations. [A] charming, funny and touching trilogy opener.”
    Shelf Awareness

    “In Skunk and Badger, Amy Timberlake has created a wonderful world . . . The characters are so lovingly drawn, and the world they inhabit so vivid. Lovers of Winnie the Pooh stories and The Wind in the Willows will find a contemporary story in the same vein. The book ends on just the right note and readers can hope for more adventures with this mismatched pair. Like George and Martha and Frog and Toad, Skunk and Badger feel like literary friends with many pages of stories to tell.”
    New York Journal of Books

    “Reminiscent of Lobel’s Frog and Toad stories... Klassen’s black and white art is finely lined with intricate detail and rich shading, calibrating to the story’s classic feel but maintaining a modern edge. Readers graduating from Lobel’s work but still looking for a good animal buddy story will find it with Skunk and Badger.” 
    The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

    “A charming tale with gorgeous illustrations to match. The unlikely friends story is one that many will appreciate and enjoy, with plenty of nostalgia for older readers. We all remember being read to sleep with wonderful stories, and who is to say we don’t deserve it as adults too? Underneath the cosy atmosphere of Timberlake and Klassen’s creation is a deep, thought-provoking children’s book that doesn’t talk down to younger readers. It is a surefire fall treat.”

    “Amy Timberlake has written a laugh-out-loud funny book for younger middle graders that puts a fresh spin on the old trope of learning the importance of friendship. The writing is terrific and so funny. The delightful illustrations by Jon Klassen are a nice addition to the story. Kids will love this one, as will anyone who gets hold of it.”
    Manhattan Book Review

    “Kids will love the humor in this book, as the two of them learn to adjust to one another’s peccadilloes and become friends. Hint: you’ll love it, too."
    Philadelphia Tribune

    “Somewhere east of 'Frog and Toad' and west of 'The Odd Couple' live Skunk and Badger, as mismatched a pair of musteloids as you'll ever find in North Twist…Jon Klassen's full-color plates and spot black-and-white illustrations give Skunk and Badger an old-fashioned appearance in the right kind of way…You will learn a little about rocks and chickens while reading this book. More importantly, you will learn about the delicate art of working things out with the people you live with, a timely lesson for many of us cooped up together during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
    Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

    Skunk and Badger is everything I want in an early reader book: madcap silliness, fun science facts about geology and chickens, and a heartfelt lesson about the mistakes Badger makes on a bumpy road to friendship with Skunk and Lead him to reckoning atonement. Also, Jon Klassen’s artwork is beautiful.”
    The San Diego Union Tribune

    “…Both an entertaining solo read for emerging readers and a lively read-aloud for younger kids. Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen’s occasional illustrations add yet more pizazz to a story rich with humor and heart.”
    Washington Parent

    “A delightful, witty tale . . . Middle grade readers will be enthralled by the funny, precise portrait of two distinct personalities coming together in an unlikely but durable bond of friendship.”
    Midwest Book Review

    “Fresh and warm as a waffle. More, please!”
    — Adam Rex, New York Times best-selling author of The True Meaning of Smekday and School’s First Day of School

    “A gently brilliant book by Amy Timberlake. Skunk and Badger reads like a classic yet couldn’t be more timely, and is one of those books that you want to start rereading as soon as you reach the end. Jon Klassen’s art is fabulous and perfectly suited to the text.”
    —Jarrett Lerner, author of EngiNerds and Geeger the Robot Goes to School

On Sale
Sep 15, 2020
Page Count
136 pages

Amy Timberlake

Amy Timberlake

About the Author

Amy Timberlake’s novels for young readers have received a Newbery Honor, an Edgar Award, a Golden Kite Award, and the China Times Best Book Award. She grew up in Hudson, Wisconsin, but now calls Chicago home. She is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College, and holds an MA in English and Creative Writing from the University of Illinois. You can find her walking on Chicago’s Lakefront Trail on cool, crisp fall days.

Jon Klassen is a Canadian-born author-illustrator. His books include I Want My Hat BackThis Is Not My Hat, winner of the Caldecott Medal; and We Found A Hat. He is a member of the Order of Canada in recognition of his contributions to children's literature. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two sons.

Learn more about this author

Jon Klassen

About the Illustrator

Jon Klassen is a Canadian-born author-illustrator. His books include I Want My Hat BackThis Is Not My Hat, winner of the Caldecott Medal; and We Found A Hat. He is a member of the Order of Canada in recognition of his contributions to children’s literature. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two sons.

Learn more about this illustrator