Appleblossom the Possum by Holly Goldberg Sloan, review by Melissa Fox
Holly Goldberg Sloan (Counting by 7s has long been one of those authors that, for me, can do no wrong. And so, when I found out that she was coming out with a new middle grade novel, I was tremendously excited.
I was warned ahead of time: this is a bit of a departure for Sloan. Appleblossom the Possum, has a younger target audience (it's best for 2nd-4th graders, I think), and is more of a fantasy, getting into the minds and lives of a family of opossums.
Appleblossom is the youngest of Mama Possum's first litter (which is why Appleblossom and all her siblings have A names). She's very content when she's younger: she plays with her brothers and sisters and takes acting "lessons" from Mama. Sometimes the lessons scare Appleblossom, especially the ones about People monsters and Dog monsters, but she knew that because she was with her family, all will be well. And then the day came that Mama left. (It's the wild. It happens.) Appleblossom and two of her brothers -- Antonio and Amlet (because Hamlet isn't an A name) -- decide that they don't really want to leave each other, so they stick together in familiar places. And then tragedy strikes: Appleblossom falls down a chimney into a house. With a Dog.
It's a delightful story of family, togetherness, and overcoming incredible odds. In this way, it's much like Sloan's other books. And because she is a talented writer, she makes something as simple and unusual as a story about an opossum leap to life. It made for a delightful read, but I think it would be a fantastic read aloud: The way the book is written feels like a story one would tell around a campfire or at bedtime.
Even though it's not what I expected from Sloan, it's truly a delightful book.