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Epossumondas Hardcover – August 1, 2002

44 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Epossumondas Series

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Editorial Reviews Review

Veteran children's lit professor Coleen Salley tells a variation on her signature story, an archetypal "noodlehead" tale based on the time-honored Southern legend of Epaminondas. A "sweet patootie" named Epossumondas headlines here as a be-diapered young possum who follows his mama's instructions a little too literally.

"Queen Coleen" (as Salley sometimes goes in her native New Orleans) tells her story in slow, old-South cadence, repeating a cycle where Epossumondas visits his auntie "most every day" and receives something to take home to his mama's. His gifts, however, never seem to arrive intact: After Epossumondas arrives home with a piece of cake that's been squinched into a fistful of crumbs, his mama scolds, "Oh, Epossumondas, you don't have the sense you were born with! That's no way to carry cake! The way to carry cake is to put the cake on your head, put a hat on your head, and come along home." But the next day, Auntie gives him butter, which then gets carried home cake-style (on his head). The next day, he gets "a sweet little puppy," which then gets carried home butter-style (wrapped in leaves and cooled in a brook), etc.

Caldecott Honor-winner Janet Stevens has obvious fun capturing Epossumondas's ridiculous errands in watercolor and colored pencil, especially as other bayou animals look on in puzzlement. But Steven's biggest coup has to be conveying the story's subtle secret--that Epossumondas might not be as dumb as he looks. (Ages 4 to 8) --Paul Hughes

From Publishers Weekly

Foolish Jack is cast here as a pampered, over-mothered Louisiana possum in a refreshingly retold version by New Orleans storyteller Salley (Who's That Trippin' over My Bridge?). This familiar story takes on new silliness as the improbable possum-child interacts with his human mother. And what a mother (fans of Stevens's To Market, to Market will recognize her as the same model)! Stevens, in wickedly observant pencil and watercolor illustrations, characterizes the doting matriarch and her sister as matronly, doughy-cheeked ladies in cat-eye glasses and flowery dresses circa 1952. When the aunt sends cake home with Epossumondas, he scrunches it in his hand and ruins it. His mother chides him, "Oh, Epossumondas, you don't have the sense you were born with!" and advises him next time to carry cake on his head. When his auntie gives him butter, he unthinkingly follows his mother's advice regarding cake transport. "What you got, Epossumondas?" a raccoon asks, as the butter streams down the possum's face. "Butter," he replied. "Hmm. Don't look much like butter to me," Raccoon says drily. Salley narrates the series of mishaps with a storyteller's impeccable timing and a pleasing Southern patois that should inspire many spirited read-alouds. A note at book's end gives an overview of the tale's many incarnations all over the world. Ages 3-7.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 600L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; 1st ed edition (August 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 015216748X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152167486
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 0.4 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #80,495 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Coleen Salley built a worldwide reputation as a storyteller, children's literature expert, and raconteur. She enthralled parents and their children with her heart-stirring and exuberant renditions of favorite books and stories. Professor Emerita Coleen Salley taught children's literature and storytelling for thirty years at the University of New Orleans, and was a visiting professor at Simmons College in Boston, the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, the University of Denver, George Peabody College in Nashville, and Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. She made hundreds of professional presentations and appearances at more than twenty national conferences, including sessions with the American Library Association, the International Reading Association, and the American Booksellers Association.

Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Ms. Salley grew up hearing the old tale "Epaminondas," which became her trademark story. Her new adaptation appeared in print for the first time as Epossumondas (Harcourt, 2002). Winner of several awards for distinguished professional accomplishments, Coleen spent much of her life in the French Quarter in New Orleans--where she was known as Queen Coleen, a colorful character of Mardi Gras.

Ms. Salley and award-winning illustrator Janet Stevens were friends for many years. Ms. Stevens used Ms. Salley as the model for the intrepid grocery shopper in To Market, To Market, written by Anne Miranda. Ms. Salley's likeness also graces the pages of all four books featuring Epossumondas.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Otero on December 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I am a wildlife rehabilitator and I specialize in possums; therefore, when looking for a gift for my twin 4-year-old cousins, I called Borders and requested "any children's book about opossums". I always say it takes a special person to love an opossum because most people think they are big rats! And so I love to show children the possum babies and they love them and don't think they're ugly at all. They never fear an opossum again. They know that you can't "play" with an opossum because "possums don't play. they're just curious and hungry." And so I went to pick up this book on my way to the birthday party, and I was crying from laughter in the parking lot. I am 20 and have been accused of having a weird sense of humor (I'm a possum girl, go figure) and this book was so damn cute, I couldn't stand it! I love to read this book over and over to my 6 cousins and their friends. They age from 1-10 years old and they all think it is hilarious even after the 50th time I read it to them. For any child I have to find a gift for, I get them this book. And even for infants because I know it will become a favorite. This is the book that your child will pretend to read because they have the words memorized. Who can resist a silly little possum in a diaper!? I advertise this book to people; it also shows that Epossumondas just does exactly what he is told and does his very best. And in the end, even after he messed up so many times, his mama and auntie still love him very much. I feel this gives a good message to children. In development, at the age of 2 children learn that mommy may say "no" or get angry, but that mommy still loves them. Many children today are traumatized at this age and do not learn this vital behaviour. This book depicts love perfectly.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Roz Levine on October 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
"Epossumondas was his mama's and his auntie's sweet little patootie. They just loved him to death. Epossumondas used to go see his auntie most every day, and she nearly always gave him something to take home with him..." So begins renowned storyteller, Colleen Salley's, clever folktale about an endearing little possum who always follows his human mama's directions a little too literally with hilarious results. As she tells the reader in the Storyteller's Note, Epossumondas is a noodlehead story. "Mishaps occur but are not caused deliberately. The humor is gentle and silly. The plot may be highly improbable, but not impossible-it could happen." Ms Salley's engaging text just begs to be read aloud and is complemented by award winning illustrator, Janet Stevens, captivating, bold and bright artwork. Children will revel in all the eye-catching detail and marvelous facial expressions as they linger over each page. Perfect for youngsters 4-8, Epossumondas is a fun-filled, witty and warm romp little ones will want to read again and again, and is sure to become an instant favorite at your house.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I bought this one mostly due to the art. I loved the photo type backgrounds contrasted with the drawings. This has been a huge hit with my 3 year old daughter. She thinks it is hilarious! It is requested nightly. She really "gets" this type of humor at her age. She has also picked up on the fact that the possum is no longer sent to do the errands because of his mistakes. She tries it on me, now!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Noseinabook on December 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I completely adore this book, as do my children. Every year in their schools, there is a 'Read Across America' day. All day, volunteers and invited guests come in to read to the children from their own favorite books in honor of Dr. Seuss. This is one book I take every time. I tried to avoid reading it to my daughter's third grade class after having read it to them the previous year, and they DEMANDED it (I had it with me to read to a different class next, who hadn't heard it yet).

You truly must read it with a heavy Southern accent (regardless of where you are from!), and the children think it's delightful. They are riveted and laugh uproariously at his goofyness.

I personally love this book, and if you end up thinking it's funny too, you need to also buy, 'The Tiny, Tiny Boy and the Big Big Cow', by Nancy Van Laan Knopf . Hilarious, and so much fun to read!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By D. Blankenship HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on June 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The style in which this work is written is absolutely priceless! When reading it to children I do suggest you practice your southern accent (if you don't already have one), as the story hinges on the wonderful dialect and silly words. Our little hero, Epossumondas mixes it up with a big old Louisana Snapping Turtle and the story is absolutely hilarious. The art work by Janet Stevens fits the story line perfectly and the style was made for a tale such as this. I will agree, sort of, with another reviewer who felt that those who live in the south might appreciate this more than northern folk. This may or may not be so. I do know that this is one of the works that the kids at school will ask to be read to them over and over again and they love the pictures. I also must admit to a certain bias when it comes to these strange little creatures. For several years now I have had one (along with a raccoon) that sets on the back poarch with me each evening eating the cat food I place there. We have had some wonderful conversations. Highly recommend this one and other works by the author and illustrator.
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