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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Jackhammer Sam, written by Peter Mandel and illustrated by David Catrow. Roaring Brook Press, 2011. $18.99 ages 3 and up

"You may try to cross the street,
But there's a crack
b'neath your feet.
'Cause I choppa-chop-
(An' I do not chop it neat.)


So begins Sam's story...the story of his work, his days and the pride he takes in the work he does. Many people want to tear their hair out when they hear a jackhammer rev into action. There are often loud complaints! Sam hears the noise, too. It is music to his ears because he knows that the work he does is important. There is always work for a jackhammer man. He works on sidewalks, in subways, and anywhere in between. He wants his audience to enjoy his 'song' as much as he does.

Not hard to do, once you have the rhythm:.


Don't you just feel like dancing? Can you imagine the fun of sharing Sam's song in your early years class or with your construction-crazed kids at home? Full of great sounds, pounding rhythms, it will be no time before they are bouncing to the beat and wanting to try it out for themselves.

Sam never feels the annoyance that others feel. And, that's a good thing. Not every one could do the  job that he does and certainly not with his absolute joy! Wouldn't it be great if we all took such pride in our work, no matter the job. Sam is a mentor for doing what you do well. 

David Catrow brings Sam to overwhelming life as he plies his trade on the streets and in the subways of New York. Sam is round and robust, driving his truck with maniacal speed and beaming with energy and a sunshine smile. The noise his jackhammer makes knocks plants from their sills, loosens hearing aids, dislodges babies from their carriages; but Sam only hears the song. His brash and burly visage is perfect for the work he does; but when he sits to have his lunch, he daintily crosses his legs, dons a napkin and munches celery sticks with whipped cream and a cherry on top. A smiling policeman halts traffic to ensure a leisurely lunch for the hard working man. When he chances to check a bird-watching guide Sam's big belly comes in handy:

"I use my belly on the job.
It shakes like jelly (or a blob)."

Kids will have a wonderful time poring over the watercolor illustrations, the larger-than-life characters and the hustle and bustle of New York City. Soon, they will be chanting the rhythms and wanting to share.


  1. What fun to make out of this rather ordinary, & annoying, occupation. I can imagine that the younger kids will love this, the rhythm & the pictures. Thanks!

  2. A very nice review of something different. I have added it to my Pinterest site: Children's Book World. Thank you. Bob Brooks