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by Coleen Salley

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Southern storyteller Coleen Salley and hilarious illustrator Janet Stevens join talents in this irreverent twist on a classic tale.

Who's Epossumondas? Why, he's his mama's and his auntie's sweet little patootie, that's who. He's also the silliest, most lovable, most muddleheaded possum south of the Mason-Dixon line!

Better choose your words wisely when he's


Southern storyteller Coleen Salley and hilarious illustrator Janet Stevens join talents in this irreverent twist on a classic tale.

Who's Epossumondas? Why, he's his mama's and his auntie's sweet little patootie, that's who. He's also the silliest, most lovable, most muddleheaded possum south of the Mason-Dixon line!

Better choose your words wisely when he's around, 'cause otherwise you never know what you'll get. Epossumondas just might bring you a fist full of crumbs, or a soaking wet puppy, or a scruffy wad of bread—oh, you just wouldn't believe it!

Renowned storyteller Coleen Salley and Caldecott Honor illustrator Janet Stevens team up for this outrageous twist on the Southern story of the noodlehead who takes everything way too literally. (Or is that Epossumondas just pulling his mama's leg?)

Author Biography: Coleen Salley was a professor of children's literature for thirty years and now travels widely as a professional storyteller. The old tale of "Epaminondas" is her trademark; her variation on this story appears in print for the first time as Epossumondas . A native Southerner, she lives in the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Janet Stevens is the author and illustrator of many popular and award-winning books for children, including the Caldecott Honor Book Tops & Bottoms, the Texas Bluebonnet winner Cook-a-Doodle-Doo! , and the Texas Bluebonnet nominee And The Dish Ran Away with the Spoon. She also illustrated To Market, To Market by Anne Miranda, an ABBY Honor Book, which features Coleen Salley as the model for the central character. She lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
In a marvelously mixed-up tale by acclaimed storyteller Coleen Salley, with artwork by Tops & Bottoms illustrator Janet Stevens, poor little Epossumondas can't ever get things straight when bringing home goodies from his auntie. Mama gives him instructions on how to correctly carry such items as cake, butter, a puppy, and bread, but the small "noodlehead" takes her words too literally, treating the puppy like butter (keeping it cool in water), for example, and the bread like a puppy (he drags it home on a leash). Mama's finally had enough after some time, but when she leaves and tells Epossumondas to "be careful about stepping on those pies," the small "patootie" pounces "right in the middle of every one." This silly story is just the right medicine for anyone who takes life too seriously: Epossumondas is a sweet, harmless character who means no harm, and his well-intentioned mix-ups will send young readers into fits of giggles. With a lengthy storyteller's note about folktales, storytelling, and noodlehead stories in particular, this winsome tale with southern origins is sure to win over fans young and old. Matt Warner
Kathleen Odean
In this entertaining tale, Epossumondas, an ever cheerful possum clad in diapers, is his human mama's and auntie's "sweet little patootie." His doting auntie gives Epossumondas a series of gifts to take home, starting with a piece of cake, which he squishes. His mama explains that he should carry cake under his hat, so that's what he does when his aunt gives him butter. Each present leads to another silly misunderstanding that will have children laughing, pleased to know better than the main character.
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. (Aug.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-As explained in a "storyteller's note," this selection is the author's own variant of a classic "noodlehead" tale. Epossumondas is a young opossum who, like Lazy Jack, can never get anything right and transfers the advice that his human mother gives him from one situation to another, with hilarious results. When he carries butter in his hat because that's how she told him to carry cake, Mama explains that he should have wrapped it in leaves and cooled it in the brook. He tries that method on a "sweet little puppy," without much success. All of the elements of a good story are here: the establishment of the character and his shortcomings; the same mistake being made over and over; children's anticipation of what the character will do next; and the punch-line ending. Salley's text rolls off the page (and off the tongue) easily, and is accompanied by delightful watercolor and colored-pencil art that portrays a woeful, diapered Epossumondas and his big round Mama, complete with flowered dress, big red shoes, and purple-framed glasses. A fun storytime choice.-Jane Marino, Scarsdale Public Library, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
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)
Children's Literature - Kathleen Ulrich
This story is a retelling of an old traditional tale. The original tale, Epaminondas, belonged to a group of stories called noodlehead tales, which include a confused main character who does not use good judgment or learn from experience. In this variation, Epaminondas has been changed to a baby opossum, called Epossumindas. The baby opossum is a literal-minded character that mixes things up while trying his best to follow mama’s directions. Like the old noodlehead stories, Epossumindas is told what to do for one thing and applies it literally to another. Better choose your words carefully when explaining things to little Epossumindas, as you never know how things will turn out. Mama’s and Auntie’s sweet little “patootie” brings home a wad of bread, butter under his hat, and a wet puppy covered in leaves. The pleasing full-page illustrations show Mama and Auntie as human characters and the baby opossum wearing diapers. The little opossum interacts with his human Mama and Auntie as well as a host of other animals with human characteristics. The end pages give a brief history of folktales and how they came from old oral tales. This title has a delightful balance of gentle humor and silly antics. Reviewer: Kathleen Ulrich; Ages 5 to 7.

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Meet the Author

The late COLEEN SALLEY was a professor of children's literature for thirty years who traveled widely as a professional storyteller. The old tale of Epaminondas was her trademark story, and Epossumondas is her rendition in print.  A native Southerner, she lived in New Orleans, Louisiana.

JANET STEVENS is the author-illustrator of many popular and award-winning books for children, including the Caldecott Honor book Tops & Bottoms. She used her friend Coleen Salley as a character model in both Epossumondas and the ABBY Honor Book To Market, To Market by Anne Miranda.  Ms. Stevens lives in Boulder, Colorado.

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Epossumondas 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read this to Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade classes and they LOVE this book!! It is a way to be silly with kids and discuss taking things too literally with them. If you want to see kids laugh really, really hard, read this book to them.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this book, we read it to the kids at the school I volunteer for and I just had to go buy it for my son. :) It's cute and it is a good story, funny and silly. Kids love this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Louisiana-native Coleen Salley has been keeping the Southern oral storytelling tradition alive and well for thirty years, and here, for the first time, is her signature tale in picture book format. "Epossumondas" is her newest variation of the old "noodlehead story," originally about a human Epaminondas and his muddled-up mishaps. This time the protagonist takes the form of a foolish young possum, the "sweet little patootie" of his human mama and auntie who claim he "hasn't got the sense he was born with." It's a laugh-outloud tale for young and old.