Lapin Plays Possum: Trickster Tales from the Louisiana Bayou
Doucet, Sharon Arms
Here are three well-told Brer Rabbit tales with a Bayou sauciness: Bouki over a Barrel; Lapin Plays Possum; and Lapin Tangles with 'Tee Tar Bébé. The obverse of the title-page gives a helpful glossary that draws nicely on Wolof and French and plenty of features of Louisiana culture. Each story pits Lapin against Bouki the hyena. In the first, Lapin claims that he is called away to one baptism after another, and the children get the names Commencé, Moitié, and Tout Fini. The second story features first the trickery of taking only the top or the bottom or the middle of the crop. In each case Lapin plants according to the portion he will be getting in the harvest. The second half of this story concerns the possum maneuver that, in this version, has Lapin stealing Bouki's cart. In the third story, Lapin starts his encounter with her by kissing the female tar baby and gets stuck by his mouth first. The partial-page illustrations are lively. The last illustration before the author's note may catch the spirit of Compère Lapin particularly well as he goes jaunting off with two buckets, surely full of something yummy (62). Good stuff!
Melanie Kroupa Books/Farrar Straus and Giroux,