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Author: Keiko Kasza

Illustrator: Keiko Kasza

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Publisher: G. P. Putnam and Sons, 1997

Material: board book

Summary: It's time for Joe to learn how to play dead, and Mother Possum is worried, because Joe isn't doing very well during their practice sessions. When Joe meets the Grumpy Old Bear, all that changes. This is a great story about how we are born with a special gifts. For parents, it's a good reminder that even when we don't think our kids are listening, they are.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, playtime reading, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 3 to 6; read yourself: 7 to 9

Interest Level: 3 to 8

Reading Level: 2.7

Age of Child: started reading at 2 1/2 years old

Young Reader Reaction: S/He couldn't get enough of this story. Even when we weren't reading it, we were re-enacting it. Within three weeks, she was "reading Joe" by herself.

Adult Reader Reaction: We liked it as much as our toddler. It is a fun read and well paced, with lots of opportunities to bring the story to life, whether you play Joe, Mother Possum or the Grumpy Old Bear.

Pros: The story is great and the illustrations complement it nicely. You can't go wrong when your toddler carries the story through their day when they're out playing.

Cons: None.

Borrow or Buy: This could go either way. It will have some longevity as it's fun for toddlers and has great potential for an early reader.


Educational Themes: Whether you want to literally talk about a possum's ability to play dead, or more figuratively about how talents and gifts need to be nurtured, there's plenty for your child to relate to.

Literary Categories: Fiction - animal characters, picture book, family, humor, emotions

Date(s) Reviewed: July 2004

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