cover image The Mummy and Other Adventures of Sam & Alice

The Mummy and Other Adventures of Sam & Alice

Akemi Gutierrez. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $16 (64pp) ISBN 978-0-618-50761-0

It's easy to tell that Sam and Alice are brother and sister. They look alike, with the same broad, oval head, ear-to-ear grins and tiny, eager eyes. And they both have vivid, adventure-minded imaginations: Sam pretends that a pebble in his shoe is really a skateboard, and Alice indulges in a reverie involving a game of jump rope with a mummy. Despite their frequent imaginary one-upmanship, the siblings seem fond of each other; after all, Alice is willing to defend Sam from a giant Swamp Rat, while Sam does the same for his sister when she's about to be devoured by a purple Sea Monster. But while the three escapade-themed stories in this volume involve plenty of appealing ingredients-above all, Gutierrez's (What the Elephant Told) buoyant, cartoon-like illustrations-the final impression is never more than mildly pleasant. It may be that Gutierrez's visual simplicity, which has worked so well in the service of other authors, needs more textual oomph than the ping-ponging dialogue provides. (""Maybe there are bunnies in your sock instead?"" asks Alice. ""Absolutely no bunnies are in my sock,"" says Sam. ""It's a robot."" ""Or a rhinoceros,"" rejoins Alice.) The cute pictures go a long way, but ultimately, the book lacks a narrative arc. Ages 4-8.