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Review of Sam, the Most Scaredy-Cat Kid in the Whole World

Sam, the Most Scaredy-Cat Kid in the Whole World
by Mo Willems; illus. by the author
Preschool    Hyperion    48 pp.
9/17    978-1-368-00214-1    $17.99

As fans of Leonardo, the Terrible Monster (rev. 9/05) will remember, monster Leonardo’s buddy Sam is “the most scaredy-cat kid in the whole world.” In this sequel, Sam and Leonardo meet another monster named Frankenthaler and his own BFF, a girl named Kerry who is “the second-most scaredy-cat kid in the whole world.” Leonardo and Frankenthaler are already pals, but the children are too scared of each other to even think about becoming friends (“I’m not scared of that monster…I’m scared of that kid!”). The monsters exercise some tough love by splitting the scene, leaving the youngsters to figure out their similarities and work out their differences. A selection of both — they agree about roller coasters and “kissing” movies but disagree on tuna salad, for example — are humorously shown in two consecutive, mostly wordless spreads including tidy four-panel art. One thing the children do have in common is a mischievous streak, and they turn the tables on their cool-as-cucumber monster buddies. Willems’s comic timing is spot-on in both the text — a mix of conversational narration, speech-bubble dialogue, well-delineated sound effects, and the odd footnote — and the color-coded illustrations that shine a light on the kids’ histrionics and on the rewards of taking a chance on friendship.

From the November/December 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Elissa Gershowitz About Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College and a BA from Oberlin College.

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