Egg marks the spot by Amy Timberlake. Illus. by Jon Klassen

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What a bizarre story!  Badger is a rock-collecting whiz-badger, who is determined to collect a rock for each letter of the alphabet. Skunk is a quirky garrulous chef with an unusual friendship with rats and now chickens. The friendship between Badger and Skunk is close but not always warm. Sometimes friendship is like that, but maybe it is because Skunk has the potential to be malodorous. Badger’s cousin has stolen his ‘A’ agate, and this is Badger’s achilles heel and a source of great consternation. When there is the opportunity to find another rock source – amber, which is fossilised resin, it comes with an unusual egg inserted in the prehistoric stone. The two friends, with the addition of a fluffy chicken, are able to rescue the prehistoric hatchling from within the amber.

I cannot say this is a story with the clarity needed for younger readers. Timberlake peppers the narrative with onomatopoeic ‘blurts’ for animal and setting sounds and conversation, and sometimes there is dialogue that just seems confusing. The unusual personalities of Skunk and Badger add some comedic moments, but sometimes their idiosyncrasies are more likely to be understood by an adult rather than a child. I struggled to the end of this tale, and even the ‘scruffy’ naive illustrations by Klassen did not lift the story for me. For those readers aged 8-11 who love eccentric characters, animals personified with human traits far removed from their animal selves, and the oddities of excessive onomatopoeia and a weird plot-line… this may appeal, but don’t expect a child to be delighted by this story.

Themes: Friendship, Rock-collecting, Adventure, Dinosaurs.

Carolyn Hull