Playing Possum

Clarion. Jul. 2020. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781328782700.
PreS-Gr 1– Alfred, an opossum, plays dead anytime he’s the center of attention. His nervousness contributes to his friendlessness; until he meets Sofia, an armadillo who rolls into a ball when scared. The two become best friends. Together, they make it their mission to reach out to other nervous animals with kindness, patience, understanding, and forgiveness. Reinhardt tells this story in a linear fashion, making the plot line and character development easy to follow. Rather than focusing on the scary aspects of meeting someone new or being the center of attention, the humorous elements of an animals’ defense mechanism are highlighted. For instance, Sofia uses Alfred’s paralyzed, outstretched hands for her yarn while she waits for him to unfreeze. The anthropomorphized animals wear clothes, such as beribboned straw hats and denim overalls, as they caper about on two feet through richly toned watercolor landscapes filled with flowers and curlicues. Ink and colored pencil are overlaid to bring out details. An author’s note separates fact and fiction when it comes to defense mechanisms in the animal world. A glossary provides information about featured species.
VERDICT An additional purchase for libraries needing to expand their social-emotional learning picture book collection.

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