Otherwise Known as Possum by Maria D. Laso

71uggnk131l Otherwise Known as Possum by Maria D. Laso, Scholastic Press, (9780545927956), March, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-92795-6

Format:  hardcover

Rating: 4

Genre: historical fiction

What did you like about the book? Possum is a young girl who recently lost her mother and newborn baby brother, and is struggling with her grief. She and her father live in the rural South and the book takes place during the Great Depression. Possum fears more changes coming into her life, so she resists her father’s efforts to send her to school, and the efforts of the new school teacher to influence her for good. What sets this book apart is Possum’s strong character and the well-developed secondary characters who gradually move to the novel’s forefront. No one’s life, or grief, is simple, and by the end of the book, the emotional payoff is significant. A note by the author’s husband at the end of the book explains that the novel was a labor of love for his wife, who always dreamed of writing a book for young readers. She passed away from cancer just after finishing the final edits for the book.

Anything you didn’t like about it? There are times when the plot moves slowly, but patient readers will be rewarded by the satisfying way the pieces come together in the end.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Read Alikes? Recommend to readers who enjoy stories of strong, unconventional female characters. Also recommend to readers who enjoyed Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck, and Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries and elementary schools will want to consider purchasing this book.

Where would you shelve it ?  Middle-grade fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  Not necessarily.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Renée Wheeler, Leominster Public Library, Leominster, MA

Date of review: Dec. 11, 2016

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