Perfect Picture Book Friday – A Whiff of Pine, a Hint of Skunk

A Whiff of Pine, a Hint of Skunk
Written by Deborah Ruddell,
Illustrated by Joan Rankin
Simon & Schuster, McElderry Books, 2009
Suitable for: Ages 4-8

Themes/Topics: Nature, Seasons, Animals, Poetry

Opening/SynopsisFrom the book jacket- Take a lighthearted romp through four seasons in the forest with these whimsical poems. Marvel at the overachieving beaver, applaud the race-winning snail and its perfect trail of slime, or head off to be pampered at a squirrel spa.

Hand turkey, courtesy Grace Mealey


I find it most insulting
that you traced around your hand
and colored all my feathers
either plain old brown or tan.

Where’s the copper? Where’s the gold
that a turkey should expect?
Where on earth is raw sienna,
and where is the respect?

Finally, I’m baffled
that you’ve made me look so dumb.
My head is quite distinguished
and it’s nothing like your thumb.

Used by permission of the author. Deborah Ruddell, 2009.

Activities: Deborah Ruddell offers a plethora of classroom activities at her website, including this classroom guide.  Take a sensory-filled walk through the woods to see, smell, and listen to the wonder around you.  I’d be remiss not to suggest tracing your hand and coloring a turkey in vibrant colors including copper, gold and raw sienna!

Why I Like This Book:  Delightful tongue-tickling, toe-tapping poems featuring forest critters of all sorts and amusing, spot-on illustrations have made this book a consistent family favorite.  We  quote its oh-so-memorable descriptive lines when we spot a critter in the woods, and our  Thanksgiving tradition is to read aloud the hysterically funny A WILD TURKEY COMMENTS ON HIS PORTRAIT.

For more fantastic picture books and resources please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog and find the tab for Perfect Picture Books.  My thanks to Deborah for granting  permission to share my favorite poem from this book.  Happy Thanksgiving!


About Cathy Ballou Mealey

Picture book addict and autism advocate, author, scone lover. WHEN A TREE GROWS (2019) @SterlingKids. Repped by Liza Fleissig @lizaroyceagency. Reach me via email at or Twitter @catballoumealey
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

47 Responses to Perfect Picture Book Friday – A Whiff of Pine, a Hint of Skunk

  1. izatrapani1 says:

    For the title alone, I’d buy this book! And then I looked at the lovely illustrations and read the endearing sample poem- and yes, I will definitely be adding it to my collection! Thanks for sharing, Cathy 🙂

  2. I had the same thought as Iza – that title is FABULOUS! And that poem is a riot. Oh my goodness, I’m so glad you shared a poetry book on PPBF – so today it’s Perfect Poetry Book Friday. 🙂

    Seriously, I can’t stop reading that poem. It’s one of those that make me laugh and then wish I’d written it. Going in the Amazon cart right now!

    I think Grace’s lovely art would calm the heart of Ruddell’s turkey-with-an-attitude.

  3. Catherine Johnson says:

    I heard of this last week, now I really want it 🙂
    Great review!

  4. laurimeyers says:

    Proof that some books of children’s poetry are published. I heard poets pose that question repeatedly at an event last week.

  5. What a clever poem! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Love the title — very creative and appealing. Like books that teach children about the seasons. And, I enjoyed the poem you shared and linked to Thanksgiving. Fun activity.

  7. Thank you so much for this wonderful review, Cathy! Wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving!

  8. Sue Wang says:

    What fun, Cathy! I love Grace’s turkey, and the poem next to it. I was thinking, wow, the turkey knows what it’s talking about…

    Grace is an artist, -what if she and you do a book together? I like that. Thank you for this Thanksgiving cheer. Wish you a fun and colorful one, just like this painting. ❤

  9. Joanna says:

    I love the title and Grace’s picture and the premise very much. I shall see if the library has this tomorrow. Love this choice, Cathy!

  10. jama says:

    Uh-oh. Hint of skunk. Shuddered a little when I read that — because we sometimes have a skunky visitor under our porch. LOVE the poem and Grace’s perfect picture. Looks like a wonderful collection. Will look for it. Thanks, Cathy!

  11. The tittle is golden and the cover illo too. Unfortunately we know the hint of skunk too well, but a fun thing to do is scratch pine bark and sniff – some smell different than others (can’t remember which smells like vanilla!). Now you’ve got me wanting to get our tree early!

  12. B.J. Lee says:

    I loved this book – very clever. I believe Deborah Ruddell also wrote Today at the Bluebird Cafe, also wonderful!

  13. You had me at the title – LOL

  14. A lovely light funny post. Even the comments are hilarous. Loved the poem of the turkey with attitude, very clever! This was great Cathy, great choice.

  15. I love books that teach about the season, natural cycles, etc. And I love it when we can explore them with beautiful language. Thanks for this fantastic recommendation!

  16. You had me with the title, Cathy! Just terrific 🙂 Sounds like there’s a lot to love about this one! Thanks for adding it to our list!

  17. I love the idea of an insulted turkey — she captures it perfectly in that poem. I haven’t heard of this one before, Cathy, thanks for reviewing it and bringing it to our attention.

  18. haitiruth says:

    Haha, this is great! I can see why the turkey is insulted. 🙂

  19. Cathy…love the title…love the rhyme…love the illustration…have to have this book!!!!
    Thanks so much for sharing such a unique book…I had never heard of it…but I’m searching it out right now. 🙂 Even if it only consisted of the turkey poem, it would be worth it. 🙂

  20. Must! Must! Must! read this. That turkey poem has me wanting to gobble up the whole book!

  21. Love Grace’s turkey. BTW: if she colors Corky Turkey. I’ll post it on my blog.

    Then she can put that on her resume.

  22. Pingback: August Picture Book 10 for 10 | bildebok from Cathy Ballou Mealey

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.