American Indians and Children

$18.95 paperback

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The Opossum's Tale

Deborah L. Duvall
Illustrated by Murv Jacob

Have you ever seen an opossum, hurrying across the road with its eyes and coat shining in your headlights? Or hanging upside down from a tree? Or lying on the ground 'playing possum' as if dead? And did you ever wonder why the opossum acts this way?

The ancient Cherokee people wondered about the opossum, whose silly grin and hairless tail caught their imagination. In those days, the people had no written language, and they relied on stories to explain the behavior of the animals in their world. According to Cherokee legend, the Opossum owned a magnificent tail, covered in glistening fur, of which he was terribly proud. The tail was so magnificent, in fact, that the Opossum thought it his duty to make everyone else appreciate it as well.

In this seventh volume of the Grandmother Stories, Si-qua the Opossum brags constantly about his tail until his neighbors can stand it no more. Something must be done about him! The prideful Si-qua is overcome by loss and despair when his outer beauty is suddenly gone. But an unexpected ally helps Si-qua discover powerful abilities within himself that will soon win the true admiration of his friends.

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Murv Jacob, a descendant of Kentucky Cherokees, is an internationally known artist whose illustrations appear in over seventy book and video projects. He won the 2003 Oklahoma Book Award for Design and Illustration for his drawings in The Great Ball Game of the Birds and Animals.

Deborah L. Duvall is an author of books and short stories on Cherokee history and tradition, a singer-songwriter, and a professional in financial management. She was born and continues to live in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, capital of the Cherokee Nation.


“The elaborately patterned, intricate, black-and-white ink drawings, best viewed at close range, bring this entertaining, instructive story to life."



"The tale is illustrated with beautifully elaborate and intricate white-on-black drawings and white-on-orange endpapers."


School Library Journal

". . . a terrific book for any age. Whether you're reading to your preschooler or older kids are reading on their own, The Opossum's Tale is populated with enough colorful characters and fantastical but emotionally true-to-life situations to keep children - and adults, fortunately - interested through multiple readings."


The Durango Herald

"The illustrations in this Cherokee legend are beautiful and the story is a clever way of explaining why Opossum, or Si-Qua to Cherokees, has a hairless tail."


New Mexico Kids!

"A delightful book told in a fanciful way, ( The Opossum's Tale) leaves the reader with the joy of a well-written story..."


Territorial Tattler

8.5 x 10 in. 32 pages 25 pen-and-ink drawings