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  • 2007 Comstock Read Aloud Book Award

    Epossumondas Saves the DayEpossumondas Saves the Day written by Coleen Salley, illustrated by Janet Stevens, and published by Harcourt.

    It’s a rare picture book, indeed, that appeals to children of all ages. Epossumondas Saves the Day is one of those special treats. Author Coleen Salley appears in her book as Epossumondas’s Mama. Mama is getting ready to make the opposum’s favorite birthday dessert, but she needs baking soda, that is, sody sallyraytus. The characters in the story take turns going to the plantation store to get sody but on the way home are swallowed in one gulp by the GREAT, HUGE UGLY LOUISIANA SNAPPING TURTLE. Epossumondas saves the day. When he faces the snapping turtle, Epossumondas retaliates by throwing box after box of sody at him. The snapping turtle gulps down all of it until he puffs up so big that he pops out all the people he swallowed, including Mama. Everyone then goes home to celebrate the best birthday party ever, which, of course, includes Epossumondas’s favorite biscuits with strawberries.

    This is a story that demands to be read aloud. It was appreciated by three-year-olds through sixth graders. The colorful language is poetic and memorable. Children enjoyed the rhythm and repetition and continued chanting “Sody! Sody! Sody sallyraytus!” long after the book was read. The comic details of the large-size mixed media illustrations appeal to children. Fourth graders spontaneously clapped at the end of the story, and sixth graders were so engaged that they volunteered to give up their free time to finish the book. All ages savored this story and wanted it read again and again.

    Coleen Salley, a retired children’s literature professor and professional storyteller, lives in the French Quarter of New Orleans. This is her third book about Epossumondas. Illustrator Janet Stevens resides in Boulder, CO. In 2006 she won the Wanda Gág Read Aloud Book Award for The Great Fuzz Frenzy.