Words and pictures by Anne Hunter
After reading this first children's book written and illustrated by Anne Hunter, I anxiously await more from her. The illustrations are soft, large and appealing to the eye. She makes the critter characters introduced in the book seem gentle and adorable --- even a possum!
It is the time of the harvest moon and Possum wants to party with his friends -- one last fling before winter's deep sleep. However, they all turn down his invitation because they are gathering and preparing for winter. When I read this book to two different groups of children, the accompanying adults found humor in Raccoon's reply to Possum: "So much to eat, so little time." One can feel Possum's great disappointment as he heads back to his home. The friends, however, cannot resist that big harvest moon calling to them as it rises in the sky. "Toes twitched and voices hummed." The reader can almost hear the critters coming and feel Possum's anticipation as they come to him from all directions. Ms. Hunter uses some ear-pleasing alliteration as she describes the party animals coming. "Raccoon rousted his crony, Rabbit. The crickets invited their cousins the katydids. The mice brought the moles. The peepers hopped after the frogs. They hurried and scurried while the night was still young." The friends celebrate until they can party no more. Ms. Hunter's illustrations depict full, tired critters -- "frogs grew hoarse, fireflies' lights were dim." Possum waves goodbye to his friends and then curls up with a smile on his face, ready for winter.
I would suggest this book for ages 2-8, though I believe even older children enjoy being read to and receive great benefit from it. It could be used with autumn and harvest themes. A comparison could be made between the farmers' harvest and the animals' harvest in preparation for winter. This book could also prompt discussions about friends, parties, and celebrations. The reader is even introduced to the French word, "soiree"!