EPOSSUMONDAS

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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2002

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A DOG NAMED SAM

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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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THE NAME JAR

Unhei has just left her Korean homeland and come to America with her parents. As she rides the school bus toward her first day of school, she remembers the farewell at the airport in Korea and examines the treasured gift her grandmother gave her: a small red pouch containing a wooden block on which Unhei’s name is carved. Unhei is ashamed when the children on the bus find her name difficult to pronounce and ridicule it. Lesson learned, she declines to tell her name to anyone else and instead offers, “Um, I haven’t picked one yet. But I’ll let you know next week.” Her classmates write suggested names on slips of paper and place them in a jar. One student, Joey, takes a particular liking to Unhei and sees the beauty in her special stamp. When the day arrives for Unhei to announce her chosen name, she discovers how much Joey has helped. Choi (Earthquake, see below, etc.) draws from her own experience, interweaving several issues into this touching account and delicately addressing the challenges of assimilation. The paintings are done in creamy, earth-tone oils and augment the story nicely. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 10, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-80613-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2001

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