Appleblossom the Possum

by Holly Goldberg Sloan
First sentence: “One moment she’s calm and cozy with a knee in her nose and a tail around her neck.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Review copy acquired at CI3 and signed by the author (squee!).
Release date: August 11, 2015
Content: It’s pretty basic: simple language (though there are a few difficult words thrown in), and a lot of white space and illustrations. It’s probably appropriate for a strong 2nd grade reader and up. I think it’d make a great read-aloud for younger children, as well.

The store’s publisher rep warned me, when she highlighted this book (and I got all excited), that this is a departure for Sloan. And she’s right: talking possums is a bit of a departure for Sloan. But that’s really the only departure; many of the themes — of family and resilience — are the same.

Appleblossom is the youngest of Mama Possum’s first litter (which is why Appleblossom and all her siblings have A names). She’s happy when she’s younger, hanging out with her brothers and sisters, and learning acting lessons from Mama. It was scary, especially the lessons about People monsters and Dog monsters, but she knew she had her family with her. And then the day came that Mama left. (It’s the wild. It happens.) Appleblossom and two of her brothers — Antonio and Amlet (because Hamlet isn’t an A name) — decide that they don’t really want to go off on their own so they stick together in their neighborhood. And then tragedy strikes: Appleblossom falls down a chimney into a house. With a Dog.

First off: I think this is one of those books that would be better read aloud. The way the book is written feels like a story one would tell around a campfire or at bedtime, rather than a book to lose yourself in. The language Sloan uses to describe the people world, and the characters of the possums — the brothers end up meeting their dad, Big Poss — as well as the simple adventures the possums have all lent the story an air of whimsy that lends itself more to reading aloud.

Given that framework, it’s a wonderful tale. It’s full of adventure and humor and charming artwork. I think (even though I didn’t absolutely love it like I did Sloan’s other books), given its intended audience, it’s absolutely perfect.

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