by Holly Goldberg Sloan, published 2015
“Appleblossom’s brothers and sisters move closer to one another as Mother Possum continues: “The first kind of monster is made of metal. They have wheels and bright eyes when they are out after dark. These eyes are blinding.”
Seeing the world of humans with their monster cars and monster dogs through the eyes of animals is an old trope in a children’s book. However, it still works, if it is done well. I liked the possum point of view in this recently published children’s book, that is sprinkled with enticing pencil sketches throughout. In addition, the author has gone out of her way to provide substantial factual information about animals, particularly the possum and other nocturnal animals. Thus the book has a bit of an educational quality to it.
The story revolves around young Appleblossom getting into a human house, and how she is finally rescued by her family. Along the way, we also encounter the reactions of the adults and a sweet child to a live possum, and find out about the misperceptions people have about this animal.
This children’s book is substantial in size, so it might be too long for a read-aloud, unless your child has great staying power. At the same time, it is so simple in it’s premise that I think by 10, a child might find it too childish. The ideal age would be 8 to 9, though the child would have to be a strong reader to make their way through the whole book on their own. The Amazon reviews put it at ages 8 to 12.
I generally only review a children’s book if I can like it one hundred percent. I do have a complaint about this book, but I’m willing to say that perhaps it is just my own reaction. There are a few chapters where the possum father shows up. He shows up as a very rough character. I could live with that, since perhaps male possums get rough. But then he takes the possum kids to a nightclub to find their mother. What was that about? And why was it even necessary in a children’s book like this? I cannot imagine. If I were reading this book out loud to my grandchildren, I would simply skip those chapters. They are a total waste of time, and don’t move the story along at all!
Nevertheless, on the whole, the story is good, so if you can just cut the chapters you don’t like, this is a lovely addition to children’s literature.