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Multicultural Literature for Youth

Int. Lit #1

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International Literature

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Fox, Mem. 1983. Possum Magic. Illustrated by Julie Vivas. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers. ISBN: 0-15-200572-2.

 

Grandma Poss, a magician, and Hush live contentedly in the Australian Bush. Readers are introduced to many Australian animals as Grandma spreads her magic and mischievousness. To protect Hush from snakes, Grandma has made Hush invisible, but one day Hush decides he wants to see himself. Poor Grandma has forgotten the spell to reverse her magic; all she remembers is that it involves people food. Grandma and Hush set out on a journey across Australia to sample foods, hoping find the food(s) that will make Hush visible again. The reader is treated to a culinary travelogue of Australia, sampling treats such as pavlova and lamington. A map and a glossary at the back of the book help readers follow the journey and imagine the tastes. Luckily, the possums discover the right nutritional mix to make Hush “whole,” and Hush remains that way forever.

 

An Australian artist, Vivas charms readers with her humorous, warm, lush watercolors that expand the text. One delights in the illustrations of “invisible” Hush as he teases a kangaroo and rides on Grandma’s bicycle. Even funnier are the scenes where Hush is partially visible.  Fox introduces themes such as the importance of persistence and our need to be “visible” despite the risks.  Readers, especially those from other countries, will enjoy the introduction to Australian animals, foods, and city names. The glossary and map are welcome additions. This is an endearing, culturally authentic picture book that is sure to be a favorite for children ages 5-8 and teachers planning units on Australia. As one second grade teacher said, “I read it to a class of second graders while studying Australian animals. They loved the story and we voted on what foods we may want to try. The story gave them a perspective o other countries and customs, as well as a magical tale of Grandma Poss and Hush” (B&N website, emicciche@aol.com).