cover image Attaboy, Sam!

Attaboy, Sam!

Lois Lowry. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $16 (128pp) ISBN 978-0-395-61588-1

In this high-spirited and generally funny novel, Anastasia Krupnik's younger brother displays her enterprising spirit--and her propensity for disaster. For his mother's birthday, Sam determines to concoct a special perfume by combining her favorite smells: his father's pipe, chicken soup and freshly washed hair, to name a few. The resulting hideous brew is uncorked in a waggish scene that resists the obvious moral (``It's the thought that counts'') and concentrates instead on the value of enjoying a good chuckle at oneself. Sam's generosity and naivete, along with his relationship with Anastasia, add palpable warmth. The book's humor, however, is not consistently focused. On the whole, it seems geared to readers at the lower end of the age range, those young enough to identify with a preschooler's mistakes. But other elements--in particular, a subplot concerning an awkward poem Anastasia is writing--are better suited to older readers. Ages 7-12. (Apr.)