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'You Can Do It, Sam'     Send a link to a friend

[FEB. 4, 2004]  "You Can Do It, Sam," by Amy Hest, illustrated by Anita Jeram, Candlewick Press, 2003, 30 pages, ages 2 to 6

Review by Louella Moreland

It is a snowy winter morning on Plum Street. Sam and Mrs. Bear are baking cakes. So begins this new adventure of Sam and his mother. We follow them through their day as they stir, taste, pour, check the oven, bag the cakes and load them into their green truck to deliver them to neighbors. We ride along the snowy street to stop at each neighbor's door to leave a red bag containing "a tasty surprise" on each friend's doorstep. We experience their contented exhaustion as they return home just as the sun begins to rise.

The contrasts in this tale make the story so real! The sky is dark and heavy with snow. The kitchen of their little white house is cozy and cheerful. Sam's red boots, coat and bag make us glad to see such cheerful color against the new snow. We shiver as we watch him making tracks to the neighbor's door.

There are only two pages where we see him "all by himself" instead of in the security of his mother's presence. We can see the hesitancy in his walk and the uncertainty in the expression on his face. We experience his relief as he slides into the safety of the truck cab once more.


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We are also treated to that special feeling of coming home to a warm fire after being out into the cold, sharing a tasty cake and hot cocoa while watching the snow continue to fall outside the window. What a sense of security that can bring to our minds!

Amy Hest's book is a warm fuzzy hug on a cold, gray winter day. The illustrations by Anita Jeram dot the winter landscape with bold primary color. We see the snow, smell the cakes and feel the wind as it whips Mrs. Bear's scarf behind her. Smudges on Mrs. Bear's apron, eggshells scattered across the kitchen table and soap bubbles rising from the sink all combine to bring to the reader's mind our own mother's kitchen.

"You Can Do It, Sam" is a story of sharing a simple task, a story of sharing with others and a story of sharing love between a mother and son. It is also a story about growing big enough to be trusted to do a task "all by yourself." It is a quiet, comforting story that makes the reader warm inside.

Take a minute or two from your busy day to snuggle up in a comfortable chair and share this book or others like it with a special little someone in your life. For this book or others by Amy Hest, visit us at the Lincoln Public Library, 725 Pekin St.

[Louella Moreland, youth services librarian,
Lincoln Public Library District]

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