A Possum's Tale by Gabby Dawnay and Alex Barrow is a gem of a book that reveals something new with every reading. Both work for the very cool OKIDO, the Arts & Science Magazine for Kids, where Barrow is the Art Director and Dawnay is a contributor.
Set in a 1950s London A Possum's Tale begins with Samuel Drew and his dog (a wooden toy dog on a string) out for a stroll. Samuel passes shoppers, shopkeepers, buskers and even a Pearly King in his button suit selling balloons. Keep your eye on these folks!
Sam and his dog board a bus and get off at the London Zoo where they wind their way past the sliding penguins and sleeping snakes until they reach the possum family. Five possums, hanging upside down sleeping. But, as Sam and his dog leave the zoo, it seems that they have five little followers, tail to tail, holding on to the toy dog's tail and going wherever Sam goes.
The symmetry of the story is superb and when Sam finally discovers the possums, his response is perfect - and perfectly British? He serves them tea, but another detail from earlier in the story sends the possums back home, exactly where they belong. A Possum's Tale is a rhyming book that can be a bit clunky at times, but Barrow's intricate illustrations more than compensate. Barrow does a magnificent job creating a global village in the London of A Possum's Tale. My favorite page spread included two Buddhist monks taking a picture in front of Buckingham Palace. Dawnay and Barrow also collaborated on the picture book London Calls!, which is doing quite well in England and coming out soon here.
Also by Gabby Dawnay and Alex Barrows, coming to the States in March:
Source: Review Copy