Possum weathers disaster in this gentle, charmingly illustrated, oh-so-timely tale.



Last appearing in Possum and the Peeper (1998), Possum finds himself homeless in his newest adventure.

As a summer storm approaches, Possum gathers his baby possums into their home in their brush pile, which is soon washed away, leaving Possum floating in the flooded creek with his children clinging to his back. From their perch in a tree, Possum assures his children they’ll find a new one, although there is nary a brush pile to be seen. Discovering Possum’s homeless state, a chipmunk helps the little ones dig a burrow on higher ground, but Possum can’t fit into its entrance. After hearing about Possum’s dilemma, Muskrat shows him how to construct a lodge with cattails and mud above the chipmunk burrow. When a wasp adds windows crafted from chewed wood and saliva and an oriole weaves swinging nests from grasses and vines, Possum soon has “the most beautiful home in the world!” Despite Possum’s dire situation, the text remains calm, reassuring, and upbeat. Illustrations in delicate, crosshatched pen-and-ink lines and watercolor washes move from atmospheric storm sequences in which wide-eyed Possum and his adorable babies watch rising water wash them and their home downstream to fascinating close-ups of animals working industriously together above- and belowground.

Possum weathers disaster in this gentle, charmingly illustrated, oh-so-timely tale. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-89891-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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