Why Epossumondas Has No Hair on His Tail

Book review by
Marigny Dupuy, Common Sense Media
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Southern folktale is honed to perfection.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that we found nothing of concern in the finely honed rendition of a popular folktale.

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What's the story?

When Epossumondas asks Mama why he has no hair on his tail, she tells him the story of his great-great-grandpa, in the time when all possums had little powder puff tails. Papapossum had developed a craving for persimmons. When he shared this with his wily friend, Hare, the rabbit came up with a typical trickster idea: Papapossum should climb Bear's persimmon tree, something Hare could not do himself, and throw down half of what he could pick. That way Hare could do no work whatsoever and still get his fill of persimmons.

Once hungry Papapossum was up in the tree, however, he became, so enthralled with the taste of the sweet persimmons that he soon forgot his deal with Hare. No one hates to be tricked more than a trickster, so Hare went directly to Bear to tell him that Papapossum was eating all of his persimmons. Ultimately Papapossum's little puff of a tail was radically transformed by the teeth of the angry bear, and thus the long, hairless pink tails that possums have to this day.

Ever the optimist, however, the resourceful possum ancestor discovered several practical uses for this long skinny tail, among which, of course, was hanging upside down from tree branches.

Is it any good?

 With language that is a storyteller's dream and multimedia illustrations that are as artful as they are entertaining, this is a read-aloud gem. The accent, the pacing, and the humor combine in way that will cause almost any reader to sound like a seasoned raconteur.

This is the sequel to an earlier collaboration by renowned storyteller Coleen Salley and Caldecott Honor Award winner Janet Stevens. The first of Epossumondas' adventures follows the traditional storyline of the child's hilariously literal interpretation of his mother's requests. This delightful sequel veers off in a new direction and is enriched by the addition of two more familiar folktale characters, the trickster rabbit and the lumbering bear.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about different animals' tails and how they're similar or different. Why do you think each of the animals has the kind of tail it does? Would you want to have a tail?

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