The little skunk was padding along the path through the woods, following a trail of large, friendly footsteps. Suddenly he smelled smoke—and something delicious—pancakes. That was how it began, the friendship between the skunk and the tramp, two lonely creatures in a hostile world.
This is the story of what happened when these unwelcome guests found themselves released from their empty boxcar in the middle of a tiny Virginia town that was preparing for a big Labor Day parade. Inevitably, the two friends, running as fast as they could run, were separated by the angry, chasing crowd, and the bewildered skunk was left to find his way among strange sounds and smells, new and frightening to a small animal who had never before left the kindly shade of the woods. How was the little skunk to know that, by falling asleep on the streetcar tracks on Main Street, he would cause a traffic jam unequaled in the history of the village? He had never even seen a town before, much less a parade. Hungry and tired, he took a short nap—and almost stopped the Big Parade before it started.
As in all of his previous books, Meindert Dejong displays here his profound understanding of people and animals and their relationship with each other. It is the characters themselves, so gently and carefully created, so real and so delightfully different, that will capture the reader’s imagination and stay with him long after the book is finished. We have seldom met characters as deeply appealing as the warmhearted tramp and his friend, the skunk.
Girard Goodenow has illustrated the book with seventeen distinguished drawings.
In 1962 Meindert Dejong was the first American to be awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Medal by the International Board on Books for Young People.