May 25, 2012

The Adventures of Unc' Billy Possum

by Thornton W. Burgess

I've never been sure quite where the Green Forest and Sunny Meadow of Burgess' animal world is supposed to be, but a few books make it clear that it's a northern state. This one features a possum who is from "Old Virginny," often stated to be far away down south, so that makes it fairly clear. Plus, the possum and a few other animal characters with a certain style of name (Ole Mistah Buzzard, Unc' Billy Possum) also talk in a strong southern drawl, quite different from the other creatures. What I found most entertaining about this book, though, were the little songs Billy Possum made up, especially the one about his wife's duties.

So... the story is about how the possum misses his family, and travels south to bring them back to his new home. While he's gone the rabbit throws a surprise party, which the mischief-making quartet of fox, weasel, crow and jaybird try to crash so they can steal the food. Instead, they get trapped inside a hollow log by a porcupine's butt and laughed at by all the animals who figured out their plan. When the possum returns with his wife and eight little ones, the story shifts into telling of his misdeeds. He has a weakness for eggs, and makes a mistake during one raid on the farmer's henhouse. Gets himself caught inside and can't escape for some time. It doesn't seem that he learned his lesson from getting stuck in the henhouse; to the end of the story I could easily picture a realistic fat, leering possum waddling around in a sneaky manner, not the cutesy-dressed ones in the illustrations.

I read this one on my e-reader. It felt a lot shorter than the other books (which are short enough) but that might just have been the format.

Rating: 3/5 ........ 54 pages, 1914

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