Book #14: Possum Come a-Knockin’

IMG_1486Here’s a must-have.  Written in a rhyming, Southern vernacular, this book tells the story of a possum bothering a family while they are inside their home doing their respective southern thangs.  It reads incredibly well, and even though it’s a rhyming, cumulative story, the meter switches up before you have a chance to get burdened by the repetition.  No small task.  You have to be a good writer to make a rhyming story work well; believe me, most of them stink.

Ma was busy cookin’/in the kitchen makin’ taters/when a possum come a-knockin’ at the door.  Pa was busy fixin’/ and a-bangin’ and a-poundin’/ when a possum come a knockin’ at the door.  IMG_1487

The book is so playful and comic, it just kills my head to see stuffy reviewers (Paula Danziger always said forgive them father, for they know not what we do) write idiotic things like this:

There are some problems: the family activities are stereotyped (Pa is hammering, Pappy’s whittling, Ma is cooking, Granny’s knitting); there may be objections to the use of mountain dialect, and there is an occasional weakness in the text.

Where is the weakness?  I can’t find it, and I’ve read the book about a hundred-and-fifty thousand times.  How convenient that the reviewer didn’t bother to tell us where the weakness is.  Thank you School Library Journal!

Here’s a better write-up from I-don’t-know-who on Amazon:

This is a kind of Coen Brothers ‘take’ on rural Southern life, an “Oh Brother Where Art Thou” for the lap-reading set. I imagine that some people would be offended by it, since it’s written in dialect, it shows a three-generational family in a shabby setting, and the “coon dawg” obviously has fleas. Is it condescending? Yup, ah reckon so. But as I said, my son loved it, so I’ve just bought a brand new copy to be sent to my four-year-old nephew in North Carolina, where neither possums nor shabby housing are unknown. I hope he likes it, too.

IMG_1491I think it’s a cheat to just cut and paste someone else’s write-up as I’m doing so shamelessly here, but I’m smart enough to know when someone can write it up smarter than I can.  I disagree with this writer that the book is condescending, though.  The book is a celebration.  Buy ten copies and distribute them to your friends.

And talk to me.  Tell me what you think of the book.  Do you think it condescends?  Shall we only read or write books about people that have no accent, no ethnicity, no local color, nothing?  Next up: Pat the Bunny.  Aargh.

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