Great Illustrated Books

Epossumondas (Epossumondas series)

By Coleen Salley, Illustration by Janet Stevens

Harcourt Children, 2009
Pages : 40
Suggested Ages: 4-8
ISBN: 015216748X

Storyteller and children's literature professor, Coleen Salley, who died in 2008, refashioned the noodlehead folktale, "Epaminondas," to reflect her New Orleans background, using a profusion of local animals including an alligator, a raccoon, a nutria, and an armadillo, that encounter a foolish opossum as he heads on home. In huge, affable watercolor and color-pencil illustrations, artist Janet Stevens has depicted Salley herself in the larger than life roles of both Auntie and Mama, who is clad in an ample, flowered tent dress, yellow pill box hat festooned with a red rose, and purple specs.

When Epossumondas, his Mama's sweet patootie, pays a visit his Auntie, she gives him a piece of rich gold cake, which he carries home all scrunched in his hands. One his way, he meets an alligator who observes, "Don't look much like cake to me." Back home, his Mama chides him, "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 a stick of freshly-churned butter, which, logically, he puts under his hat, where it melts, dripping down his face. Each time, Epossumondas listens to his Mama, but still gets it all wrong, with hilarious results.

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If you love this book, then try:

Allard, Harry. The Stupids Step Out. Houghton Mifflin, 1974. (And others in the Stupids series.)

Birdseye, Tom. Soap! Soap! Don't Forget the Soap!: An Appalachian Folktale. Holiday, 1993.

Cole, Joanna. Don't Tell the Whole World! Crowell, 1990.

Edwards, Roberta. Five Silly Fishermen. Random House, 1989.

French, Vivian. Lazy Jack. Candlewick, 1995.

Kimmel, Eric A. Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock. Illus. by Janet Stevens. Holiday House, 1990. (And others in the Anansi series.)

Maitland, Anthony. Idle Jack. Farrar, 1979.

McGill, Alice. Sure as Sunrise: Stories of Bruh Rabbit & His Walkin' Talkin' Friends. Houghton Mifflin, 2004.

Miranda, Anne. To Market, To Market. Harcourt, 1997.

Montes, Marisa. Juan Bobo Goes to Work: A Puerto Rican Folktale. HarperCollins, 2000.

Pilkey, Dav. The Dumb Bunnies. Scholastic/Blue Sky, 2007, c1994. (And others in the Dumb Bunnies series.)

Pitre, Felix. Juan Bobo and the Pig: A Puerto Rican Folktale. Lodestar, 1993.

Rash, Andy. Are You a Horse? Scholastic, 2009.

Rosenthal, Amy Krouse. Duck! Rabbit! Chronicle, 2009.

Salley, Coleen. Epossumondas Plays Possum. Harcourt, 2009.

Salley, Coleen. Epossumondas Saves the Day. Harcourt, 2006.

Salley, Coleen. Why Epossumondas Has No Hair on his Tail. Harcourt, 2004.

Schaefer, Carole Lexa. The Biggest Soap. Farrar, 2004.

Snyder, Dianne. The Boy of the Three-Year Nap. Houghton, 1988.

Stevens, Janet, and Crummel, Susan Stevens. And the Dish Ran Away with the Spoon. Harcourt, 2001.

Stevens, Janet, and Susan Stevens Crummel. Cook-a-Doodle-Doo! Harcourt, Brace, 1999.

Stevens, Janet. Coyote Steals the Blanket: A Ute Tale. Holiday House, 1993.

Stevens, Janet. Tops & Bottoms. Harcourt, 1995.

Critics have said

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.