Posted in Animal Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate

The Nocturnals teach kindness with The Peculiar Possum

The Peculiar Possum: The Nocturnals (Grow & Read Early Reader, Level 2), by Tracey Hecht/Illustrated by Josie Yee, (Oct. 2018, Fabled Films Press), $12.99, ISBN: 9781944020194

Ages 4-7

This latest Nocturnals adventure has the group investigate a prowler! A prowler that wants pomelos, the fruit that Bismark and Tobin love so much! But when they discover that the prowler is actually a sweet little possum named Penny, Bismark is… well, predictably, rude. Judging her on her looks, he’s hurtful and mean, until Dawn and Tobin step in to give him a lesson in being kind. To his credit, Bismark recognizes that he was out of line and apologizes to Penny. Does this mean that the Nocturnals have a new friend joining the ranks? Future books will tell…

The Peculiar Possum is a story about kindness, and maybe, a little bit of tough love. Bismark is the outspoken blowhard of the Nocturnals (I say that with the greatest affection, mi amigo), but he oversteps in this story, insulting Penny and making her feel terrible. Dawn and Tobin step in, gently reassuring Penny – Tobin even shares his own scent gland issues with her, to make her feel better about her scent – and call Bismark out on his cruelty, pointing out his own differences. Once faced with the impact his words make, he gains an understanding of their power, and works to make things better. It’s an impactful message, especially when kids are faced with bullying at progressively younger ages.

Josie Yee’s art is adorable. Penny the Possum is big-eyed, and her body language is curled up, pensive; Bismark is overbearing, his small stature at odds with his larger than life personality. Dawn and Tobin are soft and kind. Fun Nocturnals Facts and a glossary of “peculiar” words from other languages make up the back matter.

The folks at Fabled Films Press, publisher of The Nocturnals, have developed a fun Kindness Game based on The Peculiar Possum. I was lucky enough to lead a storytime group through a round of the game, which is kind of like Simon Says meets reading comprehension. It gets kids up and moving, and it gets kids thinking about the physical effects that hurtful words, as well as supportive and appreciative language, have on all of us. You can download a copy of the game for free, and try it with your own storytime groups.


Thanks to everyone at Fabled Films, especially Stacey and Gisselle, for inviting me to be part of The Kindness Game. 🙂