cover image LAPIN PLAYS POSSUM: Trickster Tales from the Louisiana Bayou

LAPIN PLAYS POSSUM: Trickster Tales from the Louisiana Bayou

Sharon Arms Doucet, , illus. by Scott Cook. . FSG/Kroupa, $18 (64pp) ISBN 978-0-374-34328-6

Pranks prevail on the bayou when lollygagging Compère Lapin (aka Brer Rabbit) takes on Compère Bouki (which means "hyena") in these three lively folktales from the Pelican State. Lapin continually outwits Bouki, cleverly tricking him out of his cotton crop or playing dead in order to abscond with Bouki's seafood gumbo. Colorful vocabulary ("picayunish"; "hornswoggled") and peppery idioms ("greasier than a politician's palm") season each page, along with Doucet's (Why Lapin's Ears Are Long and Other Tales from the Louisiana Bayou) robust metaphors ("And there, as far as the eye could see, stretched sweet potato vines greener than ten-dollar bills and thicker than a passel of lawyers in cahoots"). Many of these literary devices require a sophisticated audience for full appreciation, as may also be true of Cook's (With a Whoop and a Holler) illustrations, with their abstract brushstrokes, recurring salmon and saffron hues and subtle details. But those who pay close attention will be rewarded by Lapin's canny expressions and droll mannerisms (e.g., chewing a mint leaf while clutching a glass of mint julep as he lolls in his hammock). Glossary and notes round out this highly polished presentation. Ages 5-up. (May)