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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Samantha on a Roll, written by Linda Ashman and illustrated by Christine Davenier. Farrar Strauss Giroux, Douglas & McIntyre. 2011. $18.95 ages 3 and up

"But Samantha cannot wait.
Straps herself into a skate.
Straps herself into the other.
Tries them on despite her mother.
Sammy stands and rolls a bit.
Says, "I KNEW these skates
would fit!
I'll just try them in the hall.
Mama wouldn't care at all.""

Ah, Samantha is so wanting to try her out her roller skates. Her mother is immune to her pleas, and asks her to put the skates away for now, and wait until she has time to help. If you have children, you will know that their time to do things and your time to do those same things don't often match. It's their way in the world!

Sam just can't hold herself back. So, she begins in the hall. She continually sets new courses for herself, practicing hard to get from one place to another...always finding success. Mama is busy with her tasks: talking on the phone, giving the dog a bath, watching the baby. Sam is gaining confidence with every minute that passes. She's sure that Mama would be pleased with her progress and not mind a foray into the outdoors.

"(Mama, busy bathing Spot,
WOULD have minded quite a lot.)"

Stealthily, she makes her escape which turns into quite the escapade. There is SO much to see, but one thing she misses...the steepness of the slope in front of her. Oh, boy! Meanwhile, Mama is oblivious to the fact that Samantha is not in the house.

One catastrophe after another ensues as she makes her way down the hill, and around town. Finally, she arrives back home, her mother still in the dark about her doings. She plunks herself in a pile of pillows and sticks her nose in a book (where I would have been the whole time) and surprises her mother when she rejects an invitation to try those skates.

As I have previously mentioned, the most memorable and oft-requested picture books happen when the text and illustrations have equal impact. Linda Ashman creates a lively story in verse and leaves the frenetic energy created by those words to a artist who well knows the world of little girls. She uses her artistic skill and sense of fun to create the colored pencil and watercolor art that give this rhyming treasure expression and real action. The lines she uses to show quick movement, Samantha's expressions and flailing appendages add humor and delight to the reading.

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