What parent hasn’t had a child beg for a pet, with heartfelt promises to feed it, walk it and even clean up after it? In Paul Schmid’s A Pet for Petunia, his first solo venture as author and illustrator, one spunky little girl pleads and pleads (“Pleeeease?”) for her own pet. But not for a cat, a dog, a hamster, a rabbit or even a goldfish. Petunia wants a skunk!

Set against a white background and rendered in pencil and spare splashes of purple and gold watercolors, Petunia makes her case, telling her parents that skunks have cute little noses and stripes (just like her oversized striped dress). “Petunia tells anyone who will listen just how perfectly awesome skunks are.” Her tenacity and adorable expressions, accompanied by an equally irresistible skunk stuffed animal she takes everywhere, can be convincing—but not enough for her parents, who sum up their response with two words: “They stink.”

Petunia knows what really stinks, though: her parents’ reluctance, especially after they wouldn’t let her get a python either. She runs away to the woods, where she crosses paths with an actual skunk who indeed gives off the worst smell Petunia has ever encountered. The girl immediately runs back home, but in an amusing twist, she reaffirms her love for “Awesomely STINKY” skunks. And she also decides that her stuffed animal skunk is the right choice until, walking by the woods again, she spies a prickly animal that would make a perfect pet. Children and adult readers alike will find humor in Petunia’s predicament.

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