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EPOSSUMONDAS by Coleen Salley Kirkus Star


by Coleen Salley & illustrated by Janet Stevens

Age Range: 3 - 8

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-15-216748-X
Publisher: Harcourt

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)