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Cover image for Epossumondas


1st ed.
Publication Information:
San Diego : Harcourt, Inc., 2002.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 28 cm
A retelling of a classic tale in which a well-intentioned young possum continually takes his mother's instructions much too literally.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.9 0.5 63489.

Reading Counts RC K-2 2.9 2 Quiz: 33504 Guided reading level: K.

Accelerated Reader LG 3.9 0.5 63489.
Added Author:


Call Number
J 398.2 Salley 2002

On Order



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 Notes

Children's author Coleen Salley graduated from Louisiana State University. She taught at the University of New Orleans for 30 years and retired as Distinguished Professor of Children's Literature. She wrote four books during her lifetime and founded the Coleen Salley-Bill Morris Literacy Foundation. She died on September 16, 2008 at the age of 79.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

(Preschool, Primary) Two gifted raconteurs (Salley verbally, Stevens visually) transform Sara Cone Bryant's now problematic ""Epaminondas,"" about an African-American boy who makes a series of foolish mistakes, into ""Epossumondas,"" about an outsized, bediapered possum who faces much the same pitfalls (and pratfalls). His task is to carry gifts from his doting auntie to his equally besotted mama (he ""was his mama's and his auntie's sweet little patootie. They just loved him to death""). This he dutifully does, always in preposterously inappropriate fashion: butter on his head as he should have carried the cake Auntie gave him last time, puppy wrapped in green leaves and cooled in the creek as he should have treated the butter, and so on. Finally (""I'm not telling you any more ways of bringing truck home.... I'll go see her myself""), Mama foolishly leaves Epossumondas home alone, cautioning him to ""be careful about stepping on those pies!"" And so he is: ""...right in the MIDDLE of EVERY one!"" Janet Stevens depicts the possum as an endearing noodlehead, his elders as equally silly, comfortably large, grandmotherly humans. Together with a number of bemused animal observers of his treks, these freely rendered characters are placed up front with minimal background, the better for groups to relish their lively antics. Salley's well-honed text, too, will be just right for group sharing. A storyteller's note sets the tale in the folkloric tradition, though without specific origins. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

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)

Booklist Review

PreS.^-Gr. 3. Salley, a noted storyteller, has turned her trademark tale into a giggle-and-guffaw-inducing picture book. This story, known in Salley's Louisiana as Epaminondas, is transformed here with the title character becoming a cheery little possum. His mama and his auntie, however, are human, and Stevens has made sure they resemble Salley, whose flower prints, hats, and big glasses are familiar to many in the children's-literature world. Epossumondas visits his auntie, and each day she sends him home with something. He carries home a piece of cake scrunched in his hands; Alligator allows how it doesn't look much like cake. Mama tells Epossumondas that he doesn't have the sense he was born with and instructs him to carry the cake under his hat. When he gets some fresh butter and puts that under his hat, the trouble (and the fun) begins. Children (and grown-ups) will squeal with laughter, both at the possum's literal interpretations of Mama's advice and at Stevens' illustrations, with their waggish animals and sassy watercolor-and-digital interiors. ^-GraceAnne A. DeCandido