Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


All readers have to do is look at the cover of author/illustrator, Paul Schmid's book, A Pet for Petunia, to know exactly what kind of pet this little waif has in mind.  And having had many near encounters walking with Xena through the neighborhood (Is our little neck of the woods in northern Michigan the National Headquarters?), I know, as my younger readers will too, just how unlikely this is to occur.

Within the turn of a few pages, it's crystal clear that Petunia loves everything about skunks; their cuteness, their cuddliness, their black-and-white-striped furriness.  Just imagine, a live one would be twice as nice as the stuffed pal she totes around.
          Petunia wants, wants, wants! a REAL pet skunk.

She triples her use of the magic word, Please, chatting about each and every task and activity she and Skunkie can and will do.  When her parents finally get a word in, they simply say, They stink. 

Her disbelief at that single statement explodes in a ranting dissertation that is filled with sentences so typical, I challenge any reader not to laugh.  Of course, this little bundle of sweetness has no choice but to leave the house for a walk in the woods.

And yes, there she meets a real, live skunk.  Oh, the joy of it.  Oh, the...  Within a whiff of time Petunia's attitude alters as does the direction of the path she is taking.  She makes a beeline for her bedroom at home where she rethinks her wants, finds acceptance in what she already has until she sees another something special that just might make the perfect pet.

Schmid's use of color, black, purple and touches of golden yellow, elevate the spare, lyrical text to an invitation; an invitation into the pure childhood innocence of Petunia's world.  When he chooses to use a purple background to frame the parent's earth-shattering statement and a background of darkened yellow as Petunia shouts out her tirade, in contrast to white throughout the rest of the book,  readers know that emotions have shifted.  Paul Schmid's illustrations take the less is more mindset giving reader more spirit, more laughter and much more fun.

Be sure to treat yourselves by reading this interview with Paul Schmid at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.

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