Sunday, 19 October 2014

A Possum's Tail by Gabby Dawnay and Alex Barrow

Young Samuel Drew is off for a walk, accompanied by his little wheeled dog, and we follow him as he heads down the street, past the sights and sounds of London, and into London Zoo. Wending his way around all the different animals, he makes his way to see the little possums. They’re sleeping – but as he turns to leave they awaken, drop from their perch and, seeing Samuel’s little dog’s string tail, grab on tight. So, as Samuel heads back the way he came, he’s unknowingly followed along by this little collection of furry creatures. But what will happen when he gets home and discovers them?

I’m not really sure what to think of A Possum’s Tail – it starts off as one sort of book and then becomes something else! It has quite a traditional sort of feel, with it’s careful rhyming, illustrations that conjure a time just gone by, and straightforward layout, picture above, words underneath. I suspect that much of the content in the pictures are real places, but not being from London I’m only able to recognize the obvious ones. It feels lovely and circular to read – but then, when Samuel Drew gets home and discovers his possummy trail, the tone changes, and the perspective changes, and it suddenly wasn’t quite so comfortable a story anymore. Nothing untoward happens, not in the least, but it just felt a little bit silly after that, after such a lovely beginning. I’m sure, though, that this is probably an adult perspective, and that young children reading the story would most likely give a different response.

The book is a lovely package, and something just a little bit different perhaps from your average picture book. Give it a try and I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

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