________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 6. . . .October 11, 2013


Skink on the Brink. (A Tell-Me-More Storybook).

Lisa Dalrymple. Illustrated by Suzanne Del Rizzo.
Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2013.
32 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
ISBN 978-1-55455-231-3.

Subject Headings:
Self-esteem-Juvenile fiction.
Skinks-Juvenile fiction.

Preschool-grade 3 / Ages 4-8.

Review by Carla Epp.

**** / 4



As he grew, he changed. He grew until he was no longer a little skink. He was a big skink with a tail that had also changed. It wasn't so blue anymore. In fact, it had become rather grey. And it didn't make him feel quite so special.


His songs didn't feel right. His tail didn't feel right. Without his rhymes, even his favourite spot by the pond didn't feel right. Maybe somewhere new would inspire him.


Skink on the Brink is the story of Stewie the Blue, an endangered five-lined skink. Stewie loves his blue tail and his warm, damp pond habitat. Stewie also loves to sing and make up rhymes. Stewie uses his tail to slither and climb, and it also protects him from predators as his tail will fall off if he is attacked! One day Stewie begins to notice that he is growing up and that with this change comes a tail that has turned grey. He feels less special with his new tail colour, and nothing in his world feels quite right anymore, and so Stewie goes exploring, hoping that a new environment might inspire him and make him feel like himself again. Eventually, he finds a new pond, but even there he feels out of place until a woodpecker points out Stewie's new special feature. He has a new red head, and he is endangered, making him even more special. The woodpecker's tapping even inspires Stewie to create a new rhyme, and he decides it is time to head back home where he settles on a new nickname and a new song that remind him how special he is.

internal art     There is a strong message in this book for readers about loving oneself but also accepting that one will change as one grows up. This change does not make anyone less special, but one may have to look a little harder to find what his or her new special qualities and features are. The story is not overly didactic though; instead, it is a warm, realistic expression of how a young person might feel when facing change s/he did not necessarily expect.

      The plasticine illustrations in this book, in the style of Barbara Reid, are beautiful. In particular, the detail in them is impressive. They are a joy for adults and children alike to explore. Many different types of animals are represented on each page (many partially hidden behind plants), and they would be fun to find and name. Because of the medium, the illustrations are also incredibly vibrant and multidimensional.

      Skink on the Brink is also part of the “Tell-Me-More Storybook” series and provides added features for the reader. At the back of the book, there are two pages that outline the levels of endangerment and how people can help. Additionally, these pages indicate where skinks live, who they are related to, and what the life-cycle of a skink is. There is also information on the predator weasel from the book and some fun activities for children, including how to make a skink out of plasticine and how to play a skink inspired game of tag.

      Skink on the Brink is a great book. The story and illustrations are rich and interesting, and the added information and activities at the back of the book enrich the experience of reading this book. It would be a good purchase for all libraries.

Highly Recommended.

Carla Epp is a librarian with Winnipeg Public Library in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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