Popper Possum and the Giant Rats by Mary Brugioni and Illustrated by Albert Saavedra. Ages 4 – 8 (2.5 year old son loved it). CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. February 2013. 32 pages. ISBN-13: 978-1482388961. Fiction. $6.99 Paperback/$2.99 Kindle
Summary: One night seven-year-old Emily spots a possum. Her father tells her that the possum will not hurt her and she shouldn’t be afraid. Two nights later Emily sees the possum again. Emily follows the possum into the woods and falls into the hole of a big tree.
When Emily emerges from the other side of the hole into a paradise, the possum is waiting for her. He introduces himself to her as Popper Possum. He explains to Emily that she’s special and only those with pure hearts can enter into the land where animals can talk. He also needs her help. Some of the rats have obtained a magical flute that causes them to grow each time it is played. He needs her help in getting the magic flute back before the rats take over his world. Emily agrees to help and they set off together.
Emily is captured by the rats, but Popper saves her. Just as they think they’ve escaped, the rats discover she’s missing and chases after her and Popper. They come to a river and Popper tells Emily to hold on to his tail. He jumps in the river and swims down and down (the cover image). She emerges in a lake and realizes that she’s back in her world. When she wakes up the next day she’s not sure if she imagined the whole thing. She runs back to the tree in the woods and finds a thank you note from Popper Possum and the broken magical flute.
Our Experience Reading this Book: We highly, highly recommend this book. (And for the record, I only review books I highly, highly recommend.) I enjoyed reading this book to my son and my son thought it was suspenseful — and so much fun. When I thought he might be getting a little too scared I offered to stop reading. He protested loudly and insisted that we keep reading. When we finished reading it the first time he requested that we reread it immediately. We’ve read Popper Possum and the Giant Rats about ten times this past week and have enjoyed reading it each time. There’s a lot to this story and with each reading we have a new discussion.
Mary Brugioni’s story has rich text with long, descriptive sentences. At times it felt more like I was reading a novel than a picture book. The surprising part is how well it works. Brugioni does a great job of balancing description and suspense that compelled both me and my son to keep reading. For example:
In the center of the tree trunk was a gaping twisted opening, a large hole, positioned in a way that made the tree look like it was yawning. The possum darted straight into the hole, disappearing into the cavernous opening in one swift bound.
The vocabulary is excellent! Words like silhouette, reassuringly, upturned, accentuated, circumference, and shrouded are used in this story — and those are just the words on the first three pages. There are excellent vocabulary-building words throughout the book.
The illustrations are bold and saturated with deep, rich colors. Popper Possum looks lovable and the giant rat creatures look pretty gnarly (which is impressive because a possum and a rat look pretty similar.) Each illustration helps to pace the story nicely and makes the book accessible to all age groups.
It’s a fantastic story, unlike any other picture book I’ve read so far. I hope you get a chance to check it out.
Where Obtained: I received a review copy from the publisher. No other compensation was received. The opinions expressed here are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
FTC Disclosures: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” If you click on the link and purchase the book, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Mary Brugioni: https://www.facebook.com/marybrugionii?ref=stream
Albert Saavedra: fiverr.com/albertsaavedra
Other Links and Resources:
- Are you wondering what the difference between a possum and an opossum is? Read here: http://grammarist.com/spelling/opossum-possum