Saturday, September 16, 2017

Appleblossom the possum by Holly Goldberg Sloan

There are lots of possums in my neighborhood and they are quite noisy at times and of course leave their little deposits on my veranda but after reading Appleblossom the Possum I have new insights into this little fury survivor and the ways they have adapted to life in the suburbs.

As this story opens Appleblossom is born - yes she is actually inside her mum.  "And then push comes to shove and she's out."  She makes the long journey up to the pouch.  All first born possum babies have names beginning with the letter A.  Subsequent litters will use B then C and so on. "Mama Possum is a free thinker and she encourages her babies to find their own names."  So we have Antonio, Alisa, Abdul, Alberta, Ajax, Angie, Allan, Alphonse, Atticus, Alejandro, Augusta, Amlet and finally Appleblossom - the last born.  At seventy-seven days the thirteen possums begin their acting lessons especially death scenes.

Eventually Mama Possum leaves the youngsters to find their own way and food.  Appleblossom, Amlet and Antonio decide to forage alone but come back together each evening.  Appleblossom finds herself in a tree above a human home. Her mother has warned her about these monsters and to make things worse there is also a dog in their yard but the tree where she shelters is full of delicious treats and so the next night Appleblossom heads back to the same yard but this time she climbs onto the roof and accidentally falls down the chimney.  Now her adventures can truly begin and she will need to call on all her acting talents to survive.

There are so many funny moments in this book especially towards the end when the three young possums confront the dog using quotes from Shakespeare.

"By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes!"
"Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none!"
"All's well that ends well!"
"Fie, fie! Unknit that threatening unkind brow!  And dart not scornful glances from those eyes!"

Appleblossom the Possum has 275 pages but it is a very quick book to read partly due to the rapid plot but also the large print size (I appreciate this) and the use of white space.  The action really ramps up from Chapter 19. There are perfect full page illustrations drawn by the author's husband.

Here is an interview with the author.  Read the Kirkus review.  You can read Chapter 2 on the publisher web site.  Listen to an audio sample here read by Dustin Hoffman.  You can see some pages from the book here.  You might also like to read my review of Counting by 7s also by Holly Goldberg Sloan.

One word of caution - Australian children will pick up the error when Mama Possum is explaining marsupials and she uses the term koala bear.  All Australian children know our koala is not a bear but this is a very minor quibble and will not take away from your enjoyment of this sweet story.

Michele Shaw  School Library Journal

No comments: