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Summer of the Skunks

Overview


Told from the point of view of the third of four children, ten-year-old Jill, this moving novel portrays one summer in the life of a family being raised by two loving parents. Jill's dad is a factory foreman, while her mom is a homemaker. The three eldest children help around the house, but 16-year-old Margo hates country living, and Jill's adored brother Calvin is growing up and ignoring her. It seems only her four-year-old brother is really happy at home. The family's summer begins with their discovery that a ...
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Overview


Told from the point of view of the third of four children, ten-year-old Jill, this moving novel portrays one summer in the life of a family being raised by two loving parents. Jill's dad is a factory foreman, while her mom is a homemaker. The three eldest children help around the house, but 16-year-old Margo hates country living, and Jill's adored brother Calvin is growing up and ignoring her. It seems only her four-year-old brother is really happy at home. The family's summer begins with their discovery that a family of skunks has moved in under their house. Afraid that the skunks will be startled and release their scents, the family tiptoes around until Calvin devises a plan to remove them. The skunks bring a myriad of problems, but the real change comes when a childhood friend of Jill's father shows up drunk one night, rousing the entire family from their beds. The children take J. B. in and sneak food to him in his hideaway in a distant corner of their property. Jill's limitless spunk and courage help her learn the value of family and friends as she comes to understand her own identity and role within the family.

Tells the story of ten-year-old Jill, her brothers, sister, and parents and their life on a southern farm in the late 1940s.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in the rural South, Foreman's debut novel unfolds in an unspecified but nostalgically evoked past as the narrator, Jill, describes caper after caper. While their young brother and their hardworking parents are otherwise engaged, Jill and her older siblings, newly adolescent Calvin and citified high school junior Margo hatch a scheme to drive out the skunks that are nesting underneath their house and thus obliging Jill's family to stay unnaturally quiet. The three later conspire to provide refuge for an alcoholic war vet (a family friend beyond their parents' help) and make him dry out; and they gang up again to drive out an unwanted house guest. The theme of family closeness resounds loudly over the current of the siblings' frequent bickering, and the descriptions of catching frogs, fishing or even playing Monopoly have an old-fashioned appeal. But the book's flaws may outweigh its accomplishments. Dialogue in the opening sections frequently devolves into clich ("I could be ready 'fore you can say Jack Robinson," says Jill. "I got no need to say Jack Robinson," replies Calvin), yet the writing gets better as the story progresses. Still, readers may be unsettled by the ending-the predominantly lighthearted tone that Foreman maintains leaves the audience unprepared for the losses that accrue with seeming suddenness. Ages 10-up. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Ten year old Jill and her siblings—Calvin, thirteen and Margo, sixteen—have a summer of events that begin with luring a skunk family from beneath their house. Her sister, Margo decides to keep a rescued baby skunk, names him Rabies, and has him de-scented despite her mother's request not to. Their next adventure is helping their parents' transient, alcoholic friend secretly, Calvin's way, by successfully drying him out and finding work. Lastly, the three plot to rid their home of an overextended unwelcome relative, by orchestrating a neighbor feud, complete with gunfire (fireworks). The story is interesting and easy to follow and will make great chapter reading for young readers. 2002, Front Street/Publisher's Group West,
— Virginia Majewski
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-When skunks move in under their farmhouse, Jill, 10, and her teenage sister and brother must stop their usual bickering and work together to get rid of them. As the summer progresses, the siblings provide shelter for their father's old friend, a former soldier who has a drinking problem, and, with the help of a "de-scented" skunk kept as a pet, rid the house of their mother's bossy, lazy cousin when he comes to stay. Although the story is set in the 1940s, there is no strong sense of time to it. Jill's perception of her arrogant, seemingly perfect sister and independent brother, and her struggle to bond with them through their adventures is a wonderful example of family life and the need to find one's place. The girl is a strong heroine who is likable for her spirit and earnest nature.-Alison Grant, West Bloomfield Township Public Library, MI Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A sweetly episodic novel parses the events of one key summer in the life of a ten-year-old, Jill, emotionally marooned by her sister Margo, 16, and her (almost) 14-year-old brother Calvin. When a family of skunks moves in underneath the house, it starts the siblings on summer-long exploration and rediscovery of their relationships. Calvin and Jill provide secret shelter to an alcoholic family friend; the family’s idyllic day of gigging frogs goes awry when they lose the car keys; a pushy relative who overstays his welcome requires drastic action to remove. These might seem to be the raw ingredients for that tired old sub-genre, the sensitive, southern coming-of-age story--complete with quirky family--but newcomer Foreman scrupulously avoids the saccharine, allowing Jill’s voice to carry the novel with its emotional honesty and growing understanding of her family’s dynamics. The summer ends with tragedy, comedy, and bravery large and small, and Jill understands that she can change even as the rest of her world does. Warmly, quietly memorable. (Fiction. 8-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781886910805
  • Publisher: Highlights Press
  • Publication date: 4/5/2003
  • Edition description: 1st. Edition
  • Pages: 150
  • Age range: 10 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 700L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.84 (w) x 8.62 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Meet the Author


Wilmoth Marshall Foreman grew up on a five-acre farm on the outskirts of Columbia, Tennessee, with a host of farm animals. One of them, a brown Jersey cow named Blackie, would as soon chase you as look at you. Wilmoth graduated from George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville. Off and on, she has taught high school English, GED, English as a Second Language, and continuing education writing courses at Columbia State Community College. She is on the Tennessee Arts Commission’s roster as an "Artists in Education" teacher of writing. Since 8th grade, she has been a church organist. In 2002, Wilmoth got a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Vermont College in Montpelier. It was during this program that Summer of the Skunks began to take shape. Wilmoth and her husband live in Columbia. They have three grown children, two cats, and one dog.
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