WHY THE POSSUM HAS A LARGE GRIN by Johnette Downing

WHY THE POSSUM HAS A LARGE GRIN

adapted by , illustrated by
Age Range: 4 - 8

KIRKUS REVIEW

Possum convinces hungry Deer to bang his head into a tree full of ripe persimmons, a sight that amuses the trickster so much that his grin sticks forever. 

Downing (Why the Crawfish Lives in the Mud, 2009) adapts this Choctaw legend, extending the narrative and adding an embellishment. Not only does Possum get a grin, the bumps that rise on Deer's battered head grow into antlers—two origin stories in one. The author begins her tale in a traditional storyteller’s manner: “Sometime past, there was one long, long, very long dry season north of Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana.” Hints of dialect continue—“go to the top of that there hill”; “hit this here persimmon tree so hard”; and so forth—but, surprisingly given the experience of the writer, a longtime children’s musician and entertainer, her narrative feels forced. It doesn't flow smoothly as a read-aloud, and the story arc is flat. Wald’s lifelike acrylic paintings focus on the two main characters, often placed against a plain background. They show well. But this Possum has little personality. For a possum pourquoi tale with real child appeal, choose Colleen Salley’s Why Epossumondas Has No Hair on His Tail, illustrated by Janet Stevens (2004). Finally, the title lacks the customary background and source information usually provided about traditional material.

Nothing to smile about. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4556-1639-8
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Pelican
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2012




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