________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 16. . . . April 11, 2003

cover Pizza for Sam. (Kids Can Read).

Mary Labatt. Illustrated by Marisol Sarrazin.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2003.
32 pp., pbk. & cl., $5.95 (pbk.), $14.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-55337-331-6 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55337-329-4 (cl.).

Kindergarten-grade 1 / Ages 5-6.

Review by Catherine Hoyt.

**** /4


cover Sam Finds a Monster. (Kids Can Read).

Mary Labatt. Illustrated by Marisol Sarrazin.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2003.
32 pp., pbk. & cl., $5.95 (pbk.), $14.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-55337-352-9 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55337-351-0 (cl.).

Kindergarten-grade 1 / Ages 5-6.

Review by Catherine Hoyt.

**** /4



Sam jumped on a chair.
She sniffed the cake.
"I like cake," thought Sam.
"Cake is good for puppies."

But Bob saw her.
"NO, Sam!" he cried.
"Cake is not for puppies!"

"Woof!" said Sam.
She flopped on the floor.
"I need food.
I need food for puppies."
(Pizza for Sam.)

"Monsters hide under tables,"
thought Sam.
She looked under the table.
"No big green monster here."

"Monsters hide in kitchens,"
thought Sam.
She looked in the kitchen.
"No big green monster here."

Then Sam saw the closet door.
It was open.
It was dark in the closet.
"Gr-r-r-r," said Sam.
(Sam Finds a Monster.)

There is lots of good food to tempt this puppy in Pizza for Sam. There is a party going on at Sam's house. There is lots of cake, cookies, pie and chips. It all smells so good Sam thinks it must be good food for puppies. But Sam's owners disagree, and they thwart Sam's every attempt to sample these treats. Sam has a nap and dreams of all that delicious smelling food. Sam doesn't want dog food, yuck! So finally when the opportunity presents itself, Sam is successful in retrieving the freshly delivered pizza box. While everyone else is distracted, Sam drags the pizza box behind the sofa. Sam discovers that cake, cookies, and pie might not be for puppies, but pizza is for puppies!

     Sam is at it again in Sam Finds a Monster. Sam sees a big scary green monster on TV, but then it disappears. Sam is determined to find that monster. Sam searches under the bed, behind the sofa, under the table and in the kitchen. Finally Sam discovers the green monster hiding in the closet. Sam attacks and finds that the green monster has eaten cookies, donuts, bones, cake and pizza bits. When Sam is finished with that green monster, there is nothing left but a big mess. The monster is gone, and Sam thinks she is hero. Unfortunately, Sam's owners do not feel the same way.

     This new "Kids Can Read" series for beginner readers is great. Both of these titles are Level 1 - Kids Can Start to Read. These stories use humor and repetition effectively. Pizza for Sam and Sam Finds a Monster have easy vocabularies with short sentences. These books have no more than three or four easy-to-read sentences on most pages. Early readers will find Sam's dilemmas amusing enough to spur them on to reach the conclusion. This was my first exposure to Sam, the little sheepdog. Mary Labatt does a terrific job in creating a character kids will like and stories to which most dog owners can relate. Most children love dogs, and they will enjoy Sam's search for anything but dog food to eat and her quest to rid the house of a terrible green monster.

     Marisol Sarrazin creates a lovable puppy with human-like facial expressions that allow the reader to see clearly what Sam is thinking and feeling. The illustrations are done in eye-catching watercolours. The illustrations give enough visual clues to the story that it can be "read" without the words. I tried these books with a visiting grade 1 child, and she could read them with little difficulty. She liked the pictures and wanted to know if I had any more "Sam" books. I considered her reaction a ringing endorsement.

     Pizza For Sam and Sam Finds a Monster are recommended purchases for classroom collections and public libraries. These are excellent Level 1 Easy Readers to encourage reluctant readers to practice their reading skills while enjoying fun stories. I am sure new readers will be anxiously awaiting more titles from this terrific writing and illustrating duo. Sam is a character about whom young readers will want to read more.

Highly Recommended.

As the result of another exciting Northern move, Catherine Hoyt is now living and working in Pond Inlet, Nunavut. She is a volunteer at one of the most northern public libraries in Canada.


To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364