CM . . .
. Volume XXI Number 2. . . .September 12, 2014
Being friends with a skunk has its down side. Melís friends canít get past his stinky smell, and he feels terrible about it. Mel decides to leave the forest and his friends and banish himself to a junkyard outside of town.
While living in the dump, Mel smells fire nearby and watches as firefighters extinguish the blaze. They put out the fire, all but the last spark, when they run out of water. Fortunately, Mel is able to help out. He extinguishes the flames with his special spray and becomes a hero. His forest friends appreciate his efforts and welcome Mel back to the forest.
Kari-Lynn Winters has found a very entertaining way to write about acceptance, individuality and self-knowledge. Mel comes to terms with stinkiness and is not only accepted but celebrated as a hero. His friends overlook Melís smell once they realize that Mel has a special ability that is useful in the forest.
Winters writes using rhyming verses with four lines per page. The rhymes are never awkward, and the story rolls smoothly from beginning to end with good rhythm. The small text to picture ratio makes the book easy to read and gives readers a chance to focus on the hilarious illustrations. The use of LARGE GREEN text to convey certain stinky words adds to the humour of the story.
Paola Opalís illustrations are an excellent fit for Wintersí story. She uses a monochromatic colour scheme with lots of black and grey, accented with green for obvious reasons. The characters are drawn in cartoon style with a plain background, making it easy to focus on the charactersí facial expressions and actions. It is rare to find illustrations that convey charactersí feelings so clearly and comically.
Stinky Skunk Mel appeals on many levels. Children will enjoy the plot, especially when the firefighters arrive and run out of water. Adults will see an opportunity to discuss friendship, feeling left out, and finally acceptance.
Claire Perrin is an elementary teacher in Toronto, ON.
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