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Reviewed by:
  • Playing Possum by Jennifer Black Reinhardt
  • Natalie Berglind

Reinhardt, Jennifer Black Playing Possum; written and illus. by Jennifer Black Reinhardt. Clarion, 2020 [32p] Trade ed. ISBN 9781328782700 $17.99 E-book ed. ISBN 9780358330653 $12.99 Reviewed from galleys R 4-7 yrs

Alfred the opossum is encumbered by his instincts, as he is a nervous creature and prone to playing dead in inappropriate situations. When he meets Sophia the armadillo, a shy creature prone to curling into a ball, the two become friends and learn to wait out each other's defense mechanisms. The two then join forces to help other animals with similar problems (squids that shoot ink, skunks that spray) overcome their own obstructive hair-trigger defenses. This is a gentle readaloud about the need for even the most nervous of beings to have a trusted friend, with whom they can be themselves without judgment. Reinhardt's illustrations are cozily humorous, showing off Alfred's laugh-out-loud funny play-dead pose and hideous teeth in all their grotesque glory, and highlighting each and every one of Sophia's gnarled scales in beautiful watercolor and colored pencil. Shy viewers will certainly understand Alfred and Sophia's dilemma to an extent, but the author also acknowledges in a glossary that animals are unlikely to completely overcome defense instincts and includes helpful illustrations and factoids about animals with unusual fight-or-flight responses. [End Page 493]



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