‘The Secret Life of the Skunk’ book talk with author Laurence Pringle


On Friday, August 9, from 11 am to 12 pm, author Laurence Pringle will give a talk for kids and families in honor of his newest children’s book, “The Secret Life of the Skunk.” Laurence will discuss the challenges and joys of writing narrative nonfiction for young readers. Part of the fun, for the writer and the readers, is word play in his recent books, “The Secret Life of the Red Fox,” “The Secret Life of the Little Brown Bat,” and “The Secret Life of the Skunk. According to a press release from the library, the text and art of each of his books is checked for accuracy by an expert — in this case, Luanne Johnson of Biodiversity Works, who will be part of the program. Luanne will talk about how skunks “play fair,” trying their best to avoid spraying their powerful defensive odor. In fact, you may even fall in love with skunks, and understand why the author dedicated “The Secret Life of the Skunk” to his wife. The event is free and open to all ages.

Pringle earned degrees in wildlife conservation at Cornell University and UMass (Amherst), worked at a children’s science magazine, and then became a freelance writer. Though he has written for adults and fiction picture books for young children, most of his titles are nonfiction for children and young adults. “The Secret Life of the Skunk,” his 120th book, was partly inspired by summer skunk encounters while fishing at night along Vineyard beaches, and a serendipitous meeting with skunk expert Luanne Johnson.

Johnson is a wildlife biologist and director of BiodiversityWorks, a local non-profit she founded in 2011. Luanne graduated from Butler University with a B.S. in Zoology and earned a PhD from Antioch University New England. Her doctoral research focused on the behavior and movements of striped skunks that are a significant predator of beach-nesting birds on Martha’s Vineyard. It was during her field research that she met the Laurence Pringle.

This program is part of “Science is Everywhere,” a STEM-focused (science, technology, engineering, and math) event series at the West Tisbury library created for children, tweens, and teens. For more information about this series and a complete list of “Science is Everywhere” programs, please contact Children’s Librarian Nelia Decker at the West Tisbury library.

For more information about this event, call the library at 508-693-3366 or email ndecker@clamsnet.org.