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Skunkdog    by Emily Jenkins & Pierre Pratt order for
by Emily Jenkins
Order:  USA  Can
Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2008 (2008)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Daninhirsch

Whoever heard of a dog that can't smell? Poor Dumpling. No one will play with her because she is different - she is a dog without a sense of smell. One day, Dumpling is playing in the woods when she gets skunked. Dumpling does not realize how badly she smells, and it is a huge effort for her family to wash off the stench. Before they are successful, Dumpling escapes from her last bath and seeks out the same skunk.

Dumpling becomes confused - her family warns her to stay away from the skunk, but he is the only real friend that Dumpling has ever had. Dumpling plays alone for a while, though eventually finds her skunk friend waiting for her in her doghouse, and the two become inseparable. Her owners? They simply stock up on tomato juice (for baths) and wear masks.

Skunkdog's opening line drew me in: 'Dumpling was a dog of enormous enthusiasm, excellent obedience skills - and very little nose.' My only complaint is that, though it is well-written, the book seems a little too wordy for the storyline. Nonetheless, parents should be able to extract such lessons as torn loyalties and the meaning of friendship as key elements in the story. Its simple illustrations are soft and shadowy.

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