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by Coleen Salley
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A common element of folklore that is shown in this book is talking animals. In the story the possum and all the animals he passes by talks. This story is short with simple language so I think it'll be good for younger audiences. This book would be a fun book just to read to make children laugh. ( )
All about a woman's love for her pet opossum.
This story is about Epossumondas who always goes to see his aunt who is always sending him home with something. Once he would get home his momma would tell him "Epossumondas you dont have the sense you were born with". His momma would try to tell him the right way to carry his items. Everyday on his way home Epossumondas would walk past a friendly animal. All the animals would tell him it didnt look like what he said he was carring. By the time he would get back home he would only have a little bit left of what his aunt gave him, and it would be all messed up. Finally his momma tells him she's going to see his aunt and he can not go anymore. She told him that she had pies on porch and he needs to be careful about stepping on them. Well Epossumondas was careful, by stepping in the middle of all the pies!
My personal experience relating to this book is again with my children. My kids are always trying to carry stuff around ending up messing whatever it is up. Im always trying to tell them a better way of holding, carrying, handling something. I end up doing it myself in the end. If I tell them something it seems like they always misinterpret what I say to them.
1. I could have my students give an example of the right way that Epossumondas should have handled what his aunt gave him.
2. If I was reading this to my students I could have them come up with different items that his aunt could give him to take home to his momma.
Epossumondas is determinedly literal in this humorous picture-book from New Orleans storyteller Coleen Salley, the first of four such stories - subsequent titles include: Why Epossumondas Has No Hair on His Tail, Epossumondas Saves the Day and Epossumondas Plays Possum - to chronicle his (mis)adventures. Continually bringing home presents from his auntie's house, the didelphine hero (or should that be trickster?) of this tale follows his mama's instructions to the letter, but as said instructions are always delivered after the fact, and applied the next time around, they never quite work out, resulting in myriad disasters, from crumbled cake to melted butter...
When I see the name "Epaminondas," I think of the Theban general who brought down the Spartans (what can I say? I'm a student of classical antiquity), so I was surprised to discover, from Salley's afterword, that there is a folk-hero with this same name, from the southern tradition. I was even more surprised to discover, from my own research online, that this "noodlehead" figure - a folkloric character-type that gets caught in humorous misunderstandings (think the Jewish Fools of Chelm or the English Men of Gotham) - has featured in a series of children's stories, beginning with Sarah Cone Bryant's 1907 Epaminondas and His Auntie, that have been criticized as being egregiously racist. Somehow, although being very familiar with the controversy surrounding The Story of Little Black Sambo, I had been unaware of this similarly problematic tale.
What isn't clear to me, either from Salley's note, or from my reading elsewhere, is whether Bryant was the first to write a story featuring this character, and whether she took him from the African-American folk tradition (as Joel Chandler Harris did, with his tales of Uncle Remus). In any case, given the troubling history of this character (apparently Fannie Lou Hamer herself once criticized the inclusion of the Epaminondas figure in books for young African-American students), I can see why Salley chose to change him from a boy to an opossum. The story itself, in this form, is amusing, and will entertain young readers who enjoy tales of literalistic misdirection, ala Amelia Bedelia or Mole And Shrew.
This book was alright. Epoddumondas reminds me of the Amelia Bedelia. I don't know that I read it aloud to my class but if I ran across it at Goodwill I would buy it for my classroom library.
A retelling of a classic tale in which a well-intentioned young possum continually takes his mother's instructions much too literally.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)398.21Social sciences Customs, Etiquette, Folklore Folklore Folk literature Tales and lore of paranatural beings of human and semihuman form
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