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children's 4-8

Epossumondas Plays Possum

Coleen Salley. Janet Stevens, illus.
Publisher Houghton Mifflin  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 10.75 x 10.25 x 0.3 inches
ISBN 9780152064204
Pages/Publication Date 34/2009
Daedalus Item Code 36218
This item is not available.
A respected professor and tireless advocate of children's literature, Coleen Salley (1929–2008) was first and foremost a storyteller, beloved in New Orleans and around the world—William Joyce called her "a national treasure"—and the namesake of the University of Southern Mississippi's Coleen Salley Storytelling Award. She also created a remarkable series of children's books for readers up to 8 starring the adorably noodle-headed opossum Epossumondas and his ever-loving human Mama, who in Janet Stevens's mixed media paintings looks more than a little like Salley herself. In this final Epossumondas book, the diapered folk hero follows a butterfly into the bayou. When he hears the scary snarl of the dreaded loup-garou, Epossumondas does what any good opossum would do, and plays dead.

"In this series, a diapered possum child with a human mama reenacts Southern folktales with flair and gusto. Here, Mama warns the little guy to stay out of the swamp, where the scary loup-garou awaits. Distracted by a pretty butterfly, Epossumondas enters the swamp anyway. He never meets the werewolf, but he encounters one dangerous predator after another. Luckily, instinct kicks in and he plays possum, thus being rejected by creatures who "don't eat no dead meat."... The folksy text lives and breathes like a storytelling performance. Epossumondas and his mama have so much character that this unlikely family is quite believable. The sketchy, mixed-media illustrations convey the humor of the antics while providing a fairly realistic depiction of Louisiana swampland and its inhabitants. As always, Stevens has portrayed Epossumondas's mama as a Salley double, bringing the storyteller into her own tale. Funny, scary, and clever, this story has everything it needs for broad kid appeal."—School Library Journal (starred review)

"As in the previous three books, Stevens's comical, mixed-media illustrations depict Mama as the spittin' image of the late Salley, and the telling has her storytelling rhythm and voice, as well as her vivid personality. It's a fitting tribute that her last book finds her baby winking at the audience while playing dead. Farewell, Epossumondas; we'll miss you."—Kirkus Reviews

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