Variations of Epaminondas or Foolish Jack have had the noodlehead misconstruing his mama’s advice for years, from black face and black dialect to more comic renditions, but this version hangs by a tail—and a possum’s tail no less. “Epossumondas was his mama’s and his auntie’s sweet little patootie. They just loved him to death.” But he proves he doesn’t have the sense he was born with when he mangles and muddles his Mama’s instructions as he carries home daily the items his Auntie gives him—crumbling the cake, melting the butter, nearly drowning the puppy, and battering the bread. His encounters with Alligator, Raccoon, Nutria, and Armadillo will have kids giggling out loud as they foresee what comes next, especially with Mama’s final caution: “Be careful about stepping on those pies.” In “A Storyteller’s Note,” Salley (a professional storyteller) cites the origin and reworking of this story, which is her signature tale. Those who know her will hear her voice as they read, but it is the lively, outsized illustrations that spark the story to its full exaggeration, painting the effusive Salley herself as Mama. The watercolor and color-pencil illustrations with photographic and digital elements play the silliness to the hilt with Mama at center stage in purple glasses, yellow hat with red rose, red shoes, and floral-print dress. Handsomely designed, the quality paper, pie-filled endpapers and large size add just the right pizzazz. Shaggy-haired, diaper-clad Epossumondas becomes a new name for a classic character with a wry, southern twist, and no misunderstanding—it’s outrageous fun! (Folktale. 3-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-15-216748-X

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2002


The Buehners retell the old familiar tale with a jump-roping, rhyme-spouting Goldilocks. When their porridge proves to be too hot to eat, the bear family goes for a stroll. Meanwhile, Goldilocks comes knocking to find a jump-roping friend. This Goldilocks does not simply test out the chairs: “Big chair, middle chair, little chair, too, / Somebody’s here to bounce on you!” And so continues the old favorite, interspersed with Goldilocks’s jump-rope verse. When she escapes through the bedroom window, none of the characters are sure what sort of creature they have just encountered. The Buehner’s homey illustrations perfectly capture the facial expressions of the characters, and lend a particular kind of mischief to Goldilocks. Readers may miss the message on the copyright page, but hidden within each picture are three creatures, instantly adding challenge and appeal. Cute, but there’s not quite enough new here to make it a must. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8037-2939-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2007


A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

Close Quickview