Anita Barnes Lowen
The Opossum's Taleby Deborah L. Duvall, Murv Jacob
"The elaborately patterned, intricate, black-and-white ink drawings, best viewed at close range, bring this entertaining, instructive story to life."--Booklist
Children's LiteratureToday Opossum's tail is long, hairless and prehensile. But it wasn't always like that. Long ago his tail was covered with long, thick fur. "See my tail, see it shine! See my fur, it is fine!" sings Opossum as he dances around the fire. All of the animals are tired of Opossum's boasts about his wonderful tail, but Rabbit, who wants to be the most popular dancer, is angry. Is it possible to put an end to Opossum's bragging? With the help of Cricket, who knows everything about hairdressing, Rabbit comes up with a plan to end Opossum's boasting forever. And so at the next dance, Opossum's once magnificent tail, now hairless and stringy, becomes the laughingstock of all the animals. The traditional Cherokee story ends here with Opossum lying on his back with a silly grin on his face. But this author tells what happens next. With Greensnake's help, Opossum learns that his tail can be useful, not only to grab food just out of reach, but to rescue Rabbit who is being swept away by the strong river current. A part of "The Grandmother Stories" series, this tale of Opossum's tail is a delight to read. Illustrated with detailed black-and-white drawings that have the look of woodcuts, the book is perfect for sharing with younger children and an excellent choice to enrich the appropriate curriculums of elementary and middle school students. 2005, University of New Mexico Press, Ages 5 to 10.
Anita Barnes Lowen
School Library JournalK-Gr 3-Ji-Stu the Rabbit can't stand it when Si-qua the Opossum dances and sings to show off his beautiful bushy tail. Ji-Stu (an annoying boaster himself) goes to Terrapin and then Cricket for help to stop Si-qua's boasting. The opossum loses the magnificent hair on his tail, much to his dread. In an additional, original ending to this otherwise traditional Cherokee tale, Si-qua finds uses for his newly naked, prehensile appendage and ends up saving Ji-Stu's life with it. "Do you see how you have changed?" Terrapin asks. "Once you sang songs about yourself, but now your friends sing songs about you." This ending alters the rhythm of the story; it feels tacked on and makes a questionable purchase out of an otherwise lovely book. The tale is illustrated with beautifully elaborate and intricate white-on-black drawings and white-on-orange endpapers in style similar to Jacob's paintings in Joseph Bruchac's The Boy Who Lived with the Bears (HarperCollins, 1995' o.p.).-Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, CA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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