Review: A Possum’s Tail by Gabby Dawnay

possums tail

A Possum’s Tail by Gabby Dawnay, illustrated by Alex Barrow

Little Samuel Drew walks along the streets of London pulling his toy dog behind him, headed in one particular direction.  He passes all sorts of people, markets, even Buckingham Palace on his way to London Zoo.  He sees many different animals in the zoo, but it’s the possum family in particular that he’s come to visit.  But when he gets there, they are all hanging upside down by their tails, fast asleep.  So Samuel heads back home again, not noticing that the possum family has woken up and have grabbed hold of the dog’s tail and are all five following along behind.  Once home after creating chaos on the London streets, Samuel serves tea to the possums.  But wait!  How will they get back to the zoo?  Another kind of tail to the rescue.

Dawnay has written this book in rhyming couplets that skip along merrily.  The pacing is brisk and the humor is whimsical and deliciously drawn out as Samuel fails to see the possums until he reaches home.  There is a delightful moment as Samuel returns homeward and passes the same people going the other way.  The text repeats itself again in a lively way, echoing the journey that Samuel made to the zoo.  

Barrow’s illustrations add to the joy of the journeys to and fro.  He first shows the bustling London streets in a straight forward way, then on the return trip the possums cause quite an uproar, though Samuel doesn’t notice at all.  Children will love looking at both sets of pictures and seeing the differences even though the words remain the same.  The illustrations have a vintage feel with Samuel in a sailor suit and the dog on a string that hearkens to books like Madeleine.

A clever cheerful read that explores London with humor and whimsy.   Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Tate.