Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

A Whiff of Pine, a Hint of Skunk: A Forest of Poems

A Whiff of Pine, a Hint of Skunk: A Forest of Poems

Deborah Ruddell
Illustrator:  Joan Rankin 
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 4 to 8
Simon and Schuster, 2009   ISBN: 978-1416942115

A forest is full of sights, smells and sounds, plants, trees and animals. It is a busy place, where all kinds of things can happen. In this book we are going to visit one particular forest for a while. It is a place where spring leaves invite “wrens to be their guests,” and where there is “a whiff of pine, / a hint of skunk” on the air.

The forest is also a place where animal characters of all kinds live. Two woodpeckers “feud” until they get so angry with each other that “neither one speaks to the other for weeks.” Badger pens a love letter begging his beloved for some sign, “a snarl or a threatening hiss,” and he promises his undying love. The toad describes his lunch, and a fox explains to readers that he is not a pet and will never walk in park, “jump for a ball,” or come when he is called.

In all there are twenty-two poems in this wonderful collection. Most are funny, and some paint a delightful bucolic picture of forest life. Each poem is accompanied by Joan Rankin’s watercolor paintings.